Council Considers Extending Whistleblower Protections

The City Council considered a package of bills aimed at preventing fraud in city contracting and strengthening protections for the people who expose it during a hearing Monday.

and strengthening protections for the people who expose it. 

Councilmember Gale Brewer, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations, held the hearing on three bills that would renew the city's False Claims Act and extend whistleblower protections to people who work for companies that contract with the city.

"We want to make sure that those employees feel comfortable coming to the Department of Investigations, and making sure they don't get retaliated against, which is the main issue," she said.

Brewer said the changes are necessary because of the city's reliance on private contractors, and in the wake of the multi-million dollar fraud involving the CityTime payroll system.

The Department of Investigations said it's against the legislation in its current form. Deputy Commissioner Marjorie Landa testified against the proposals, saying they would place an impossible burden on the city.

"DOI does not have the resources to devote to what could potentially be an avalanche of mandatory investigations of matters within thousands of private companies throughout the city," she said.

Supporters of the bills testified that they should go further to protect whistleblowers who work for subcontractors on city projects.

Brewer says her committee will consider all the suggestions, and that a council vote should come by June, when the 2005 False Claims Act is set to expire.