WHISTLEBLOWING "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
What is Whistleblowing?
Laws Protecting whistle Blowing
How to blow the whistle?
Case Study: Challenger Disaster
2002: The Year of the Whistleblower
What is Whistleblowing?
'raising concerns about misconduct within an organization or within an independent structure associated with it'
(Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life)
'bringing an activity to a sharp conclusion as if by the blast of a whistle'
(Oxford English Dictionary)
'giving information (usually to the authorities) about illegal and underhand practices‘
TYPES OF WHISTLE-BLOWING
Internal whistleblowing: who report misconduct to a fellow employee or superior within their company.
External whistleblowing: report misconduct to outside persons or entities.
Selfless Martyrs v/s Snitches
No Future Promotions
LAWS PROTECTING WHISTLEBLOWERS
Federal Whistleblower Protect Act 1989
Federal False Claims Act
Whistleblower Protection Act of 2007
WHISTLEBLOWER WEEK IN WASHINGTON
The week of May 13-19 2007, whistleblowers from all over the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to convince the United States Congress to pass stronger whistleblower protections for both government and private sector workers.
During WWW dozens of nonprofit organizations, whistleblower groups and individual whistleblowers participated in a broad range of activities that included discussion panels, testimony, award ceremonies, a film night and book signing, and workshops in advocacy, stress management, whistleblower law, and mentoring.
What to think about
The “mom” test:
“I’m going to be in this industry a long time. Will this damage my reputation with my boss, colleagues, future customers or employers?”
The personal responsibility test:
Weigh personal obligations to family and etc. that can only be met if you have an income.
“Will harm avoided by greater than harm incurred?”
How to Blow the Whistle
Do it anonymously
let the evidence speak for itself and protect yourself if possible
Do it in a group
charges have more weight and won’t seem like a personal vendetta.
Present just the evidence
leave interpretation of facts to others.
Work through internal channels
start with your immediate supervisor or follow the standard reporting procedure
Work through external channels
go public (biggest risk)
Risks of Whistleblowing
WB rarely works out well for the whistleblower
Viewed as a “rat” who ratted out the company
Resented by coworkers
Serious contemplation of job change or personal problematic activity (drinking, drugs, self-destructive behavior)
Depends on the organization for a job, the job makes money, the family needs money to survive
233 individuals polled, 40% responded
Average age: 47
Employed for 6.5 years at job
Almost all lost job
51% of Govt employees lost their job
82% harassed by superiors
69% watched closely after blowing the whistle
63% lost job responsibilities
10% attempted suicide
20% felt their actions resulted in positive changes
More than 50% (of responders) would do it again
The Mum Effect --reluctance to blow the whistle
The Deaf Effect --reluctance to hear the whistle
“ I wrote lots of reports. I escalated things as much as I could, but in the end, they said, ‘We really appreciate your efforts, but thanks, but no thanks’”
The Blind Effect --reluctance to see the need to blow the whistle
Established audit functions do not operate effectively because they try to conceal the information from management
2002: Year of the Whistleblower Cynthia Cooper WorldCom Coleen Rowley FBI Sherron Watkins Enron
Former Vice President of Enron Corporation
Alerted then-CEO Ken Lay in August 2001 to accounting irregularities within the company
Warned that Enron 'might implode in a wave of accounting scandals.'
Testified before Congressional Committees from the House and Senate investigating Enron's demise.
Lauded in the press for her courageous actions, but left her job at Enron after a few months when she wasn't given much to do
WorldCom’s Director of Internal Audit
Her team discovered $3 billion in questionable expenses
Met with 4 executives to track down and explain the undocumented expenses
Disclosed findings, WorldCom stock frozen, corporate credit rating went from B+ to CCC-
Remained as VP of Internal Audit, not promoted, no gratitude, resented by employees
Case Study: Challenger
January 28, 1986
Space Shuttle Challenger
exploded 72 seconds into
its flight, killing all 7 crew
members. The flight received much media
attention because a teacher, Christa
McAuliffe, was on board.
Challenger: What Went Wrong
Explosion caused by O-ring failure between segments of the booster rockets.
Several employees of the manufacturer, Thiokol, had been aware of the O-ring deficiencies.
No one listened to the engineers who knew about the problem
Challenger: Major Players
Roger Boisjoly, seal specialist at Thiokol
Directed task force for a year to study the evidence that hot gases eroded O-rings
Allan McDonald, manager of solid-rocket motor program
Larry Mulloy, NASA official, manager of booster programs
George Hardy, NASA official
July 31, 1985
Boisioly wrote a memo saying, “it is my honest and very real fear that if we do not take immediate action to solve the problem [the company could] stand in jeopardy of losing a flight.”
No conclusive evidence to back up memo
January 27, 1986, the day before lift-off
McDonald was worried about temperatures dropping to 22 degrees overnight.
14 engineers “fought like hell” to get permission to present to NASA
All 14 Thiokol engineers recommended postponing the launch
Mulloy and Hardy challenged the recommendation
Mulloy: “When do you want me to launch, next April?”
Hardy: recommendation “appalled” him
Thiokol: Management reversed the recommendation for postponement
What kind of dilemma was Thiokol forced into?
Challenger: The Explosion
O-rings partially failed on ignition (picture)
Melted metal sealed the gap
Hit a wind shear, causing the booster to flex and the seal to dislodge
Loss of cabin pressure
Flames led to explosion
After the explosion
Demoted by management
Public outcry and Congressional investigation led to a reversal of that decision and a promotion instead
Became spokesman for Thiokol and new rocket boosters
“ I hope and pray that I have not risked my job and family security by being honest in my conviction”
Never worked on a shuttle again because it was too painful
Wondered if there was more he could have done, even though the record shows he minced no words
Reassigned by management with altered responsibilities
Took leave of absence, a year later went on disability
What effects did Boisjoly and McDonald face when they blew the whistle?
Why did NASA not listen to the engineers?
Why did Thiokol to reverse its decision even though they knew it was incorrect?
Would you have blown the whistle differently than Boisjoly and McDonald? If so, how?