Provided by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s Office
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) voted in favor of the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 which passed the House today by a bipartisan vote. The legislation is named after former Veterans Affairs Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, who took his own life after being disciplined by the VA after he suggested that other members of the VA were overmedicating their patients. The discipline led to Dr. Kirkpatrick’s mental health declining and he was ultimately let go by the VA and then took his own life. An investigation by the VA into the death of a veteran due to “mixed drug toxicity” confirmed Dr. Kirkpatrick’s initial concerns of overmedication.
“The case of VA Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick is heartbreaking and should have never happened. Our dedicated federal employees need enhanced whistleblower protections and the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act will give those necessary protections by holding those who take action against whistleblowers accountable. Since I was a staffer of Congressman Frank Wolf, I have worked with government whistleblowers and strongly believe that if someone in our federal workforce sees wrongdoing they should have the necessary protections and feel comfortable reporting it.”
The bill provides enhanced protections and expedites investigations of instances in which probationary federal employees are fired for whistleblowing; enacts reforms to ensure that managers who retaliate against whistleblowers are held accountable; provides the Office of Special Counsel with adequate access to information from federal agencies to allow for complete investigations and better protect whistleblowers; ensures that all federal employees are informed of their rights as whistleblowers and provides training to managers on protections; and establishes measures to hold VA employees that improperly access the medical records of their fellow VA employees accountable.