Subject: Congressional Hearing on DOE Whistleblowers

The U.S. House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, May 23 at 9:30 a.m. to focus on the Department of Energy's whistleblower program, entitled, "Is There Really 'Zero Tolerance' for Contractor Reprisal?" Featured at the hearing will be the testimony of whistleblowers from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and the Hanford Site, as well as a representative from the Government Accountability Project on one panel, with DOE's General Counsel Mary Ann Sullivan and Assistant Secretary David Michaels on another, and a third panel with contractor representatives.

From the Commerce Committee Chairman letter to Secy Bill Richardson, dated March 30:

"With respect to this matter, I am disappointed that you and Ms. Sullivan continue to refuse to take the basic steps to ensure a workplace in which employee concerns about safety can be expressed without fear of reprisal. DOE's inaction over the past two years with respect to Mr. Lappa's situation demonstrates a lack of concern for ensuring a safe workplace, and sends a chillingly clear message to employees at LLNL and throughout the complex that whistleblowers are not wanted."

-and, from later on in the same letter -

"In the past several weeks, the Committee has been contacted by several whistleblowers who have described acts of retaliation and discrimination, many of whom are employees at facilities operated by the UC system. As the Committee reviews these matters, I am certain that I will have additional questions for you. There seems to be a much larger problem than you and Ms. Sullivan are willing to recognize. DOE's lack of response to Mr. Lappa's situation -- responding only after repeated requests for action from this Committee -- indicate not only that DOE is unwilling to actively enforce your zero tolerance policy, but that your lack of attention to these matters may have already created a chilling effect at LLNL and throughout the DOE complex, making employees afraid to raise legitimate safety concerns."

For more information, contact the House Commerce Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, at 202-226-2424.

Tom Carpenter
Government Accountability Project
1402 3rd Avenue, Suite 1215
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 292-2850
(206) 292-0610 fax