Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA)

This page explains the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) that protects Federal employees and applicants for employment
August 12, 2013

Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA)

The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) protects Federal employees and applicants for employment who lawfully disclose information they reasonably believe evidences a violation of law, rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.  Under the WPA, certain federal employees may not take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take; any personnel action against an employee or applicant for employment because of the employee or applicant’s protected whistleblowing. See 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (8).

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA)

On November 27, 2012, President Obama signed the WPEA into law to strengthen protections for Federal employees who report fraud, waste and abuse. The WPEA:


  • Clarifies the scope of protected disclosures; the disclosure does not lose protection because: the disclosure was made to someone, including a supervisor, who participated in the wrongdoing disclosed; the wrongdoing being reported has previously been disclosed; of the employee’s motive for reporting the wrongdoing; the disclosure was made while the employee was off duty;  the disclosure was made during the employee’s normal course of duty, if the employee can show that the personnel action was taken in reprisal for the disclosure; of the amount of time which has passed since the occurrence of the events described in the disclosure.

  • Protects disclosures that an employee reasonably believes are evidence of censorship related to research, analysis, or technical information that causes, or will cause, a gross government waste or gross mismanagement , an abuse of authority, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or any violation of law;

  • Expands the penalties imposed for violating whistleblower protections;

  • Establishes a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman in certain OIGs for a five year period. 


Office of Special Counsel

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes prohibited personnel practices by federal agencies, including whistleblower retaliation. If you believe you have been subject to retaliation for protected whistleblowing contact OSC, 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218, Washington, DC 20036-4505, 202-254-3600 (Phone), 800-872-9855(Toll Free), 800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service), www.osc.gov.


For more information on WPA and WPEA protections please visit Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs.