Pilot Program for Enhancement of Contractor Employee Whistleblower Protections

Two major federal sponsors of research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) updated their terms and conditions as of March 7, 2014, to implement a new pilot program for enhanced Whistleblower Protection, which is scheduled to run from July 1, 2013 through January 1, 2017.

Under the terms of this pilot program, all MIT employees working on federal contracts and grants must be notified of the following whistleblower rights and protections under 41 US Code 4712:

NOTIFICATION OF WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS

No employer may discharge, demote, or otherwise discriminate against an employee on a federal contract or grant as a reprisal for disclosing information that the employee reasonably believes is evidence of gross mismanagement of a Federal contract, a gross waste of Federal funds, an abuse of authority relating to a Federal contract, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or a violation of Jaw, rule, or regulation related to a Federal contract (including the competition for or negotiation of a contract). A reprisal is prohibited even if it is undertaken at the request of an executive branch official, unless the request takes the form of a non-discretionary directive and is within the authority of the executive branch official making the request. 

Disclosures of unclassified information to the following entities are protected under this program

  • A Member of Congress or a representative of a committee of Congress
  • An Inspector General
  • The Government Accountability Office
  • A Federal employee responsible for contract oversight or management at the relevant agency
  • An authorized official of the Department of Justice or other law enforcement agency
  • A court or grand jury
  • A management official or other employee of the MIT or subcontractor who has the responsibility to investigate, discover, or address misconduct

The full text of the Statute can be found at http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:41%20section:4712%20edition:prelim)

This notification:

  • Applies to NIH awards issued on or after July 1, 2013
  • Applies to NSF awards made or amended on or after March 7, 2014
  • Applies to any Federal contract incorporating FAR Clause 52.203-17