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Support Grows For State Whistleblower Protections

Whistleblowers within the state government may soon have more protection from retaliation or exposure after they’ve reported waste, mismanagement, or corruption.

State Auditor Doug Hoffer is leading an effort to get lawmakers to expand the state’s existing whistleblower protections – currently, it is illegal to retaliate against an employee for reporting wrongdoing or waste – to include identity protection.

“Whistleblowers at present in state government, not just in my office, are afforded no protection, or their identity is not afforded protection under current law,” Hoffer said. In other words, if anyone requests a list of people who have tipped him off to wrongdoing, Hoffer has no legal ability to withhold that information.

A survey by the Vermont State Employees Association shows that 469 of more than 600 state employees surveyed supported Hoffer’s sentiment.

Doug Gibson, a spokesman for VSEA, said that despite legislation against it, retaliation still happens.

“People felt strongly, very strongly,” Gibson said, “that retaliation is a huge problem in state government.”

Legislation that protects the identity of whistleblowers who don’t want to be revealed would help address that problem, Hoffer said.