Antioch Law Journal


The term 'whistleblower' is like 'motherhood,' and we are all for whistleblowing apparently. 1978 remarks of Representative Derwinski during House Markup of Civil Service Reform Act provisions establishing protection for federal whistleblowers. I"[Q] In your statement you say that most managers follow the law ...[a]nd have integrity."[A] That is my firm belief."[Q] And that most whistleblowers are malcontents."[A] That has been my experience."1985 exchange between Representative Schroeder and Special Counsel K. William O'Connor, the official responsible under the Reform Act for protection of whistleblowers. 2Even the clearest congressional intent is no stronger than the commitment of those with the discretion and responsibility to implement a statute. For federal employee "whistleblowers,"3-those who challenge governmental fraud, waste and abuse-the experience of the Civil Service Reform Act4 ("CSRA" or "Reform Act") has demonstrated an even more painful truth: rights are not meaningful unless victims can enforce their violations in the courts. Remedies whose enforcement are at the mercy of a bureaucratic champion's whims inherently provide "soft"rights that are vulnerable to administrative abuse of authority. In the case of the Reform Act, the Office of the Special Counsel 5 ("Office" or"OSC"), responsible for protecting the civil service rights of federal employees, has disintegrated into an effective weapon against the intended beneficiaries.