S.585 – Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

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Week ending October 13, 2017

S.585 – Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017


‘S. 585, the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, provides additional protections to Federal employees who are retaliated against for disclosing waste, fraud, or abuse in the Federal Government. Additionally, the bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to address agency-specific gaps in its protection of VA employees, including VA employees’ privacy interest in their medical records and their personal safety.

The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a whistleblower who questioned excessive prescription practices at the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin (Tomah VAMC). Dr. Kirkpatrick took his own life after being fired from the Tomah’

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Federal agency charged with investigating and redressing whistleblower retaliation, “has seen a sharp increase in the number of whistleblower cases from VA employees.’

Thus the bill.

To ensure all agencies are providing this crucial information to their employees, S. 585 sets a deadline for agencies to provide their employees with the required information, and also provides more detail on what type of information the agency needs to include when it informs its employees of their general whistleblower rights:

(1) information regarding whistleblower protections available to new employees during the probationary period;

(2) information about the role of OSC and the MSPB in protecting whistleblowers; and

(3) information about how to make a lawful disclosure that must be kept classified in the interest of national security.

Additionally, S. 585 requires that information about employee’s whistleblower protections must be made publicly available through the agency’s own website, and on the agency’s internal online portal, if one exists.

The adverse actions that shall be proposed are: for the first offense, not less than a 3-day suspension plus any additional supplemental discipline the head of the agency (or his designee) deems appropriate; and for a second offense, removal.

A determination of the commitment of a prohibited personnel action must be made by the head of the agency, an administrative judge, the MSPB, the OSC, an adjudicating body provided under a union contract, a Federal judge, or the agency Inspector General.

Employees against whom these adverse actions are proposed would have notice and opportunity to respond and retain due process rights to appeal the decision to the Merit System Protections Board.

(Full text of S. 585 congress.gov)

SponsorSen. Johnson, Ron [R-WI] (Introduced 03/08/2017)

Status:  Passed Senate / Passed House /



On Passage: On passage Passed by recorded vote: 420 – 0 (Roll no. 568).

House Amendments:

Motion to recommit: On motion to recommit with instructions Failed by the Yeas and Nays: 190 – 232 (Roll no. 567).

Text of the motion:

The House proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the O’Halleran motion to recommit with instructions. The instructions contained in the motion seek to require the bill to be reported back to the House forthwith with an amendment to add a new section at the end of title I related to Disclosure of Violations Relating to Air Transportation.


On Passage: Passed Senate by unanimous consent

Procedural Actions:

Senate Amendments:


Cost to the taxpayersCBO estimates that implementing S. 585 would cost $3 million over the 2018-2022 period; that spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

Pay-as-you-go requirements:  Enacting S. 585 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

Regulatory and Other Impact: S. 585 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.

Dynamic Scoring:   CBO estimates that enacting S. 585 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028

Tax Complexity:  Not applicable to this bill.

Earmark Certification:  Data not available

Duplication of programs: Data not available

Direct Rule-Making:  Data not available

Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available

Budget Authority: Data not available

Constitutional Authority:   Assumed.


More Bill Information:


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