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Proper flow of information is a key way via which organizations can ensure an effective way of curbing malpractices and misconduct by workers. Whistleblowing underscores a scenario whereby an employee or a member of the public provides information on given malpractice in a company or government institution. In most cases, whistleblowers are employees who have access to details about what an organization is doing in terms of malpractices or misconducts. This paper identifies the main characteristics of whistleblowers by highlighting the case of John Tye, a former US State Department official.
Details of the issue and the effects
Sympathy and concern are the motivating factors for most whistleblowers. In most cases, whistleblowers seek to cause a change in organizations. Such workers act as guardians of public transparency and accountability (Bardes, Shelley & Schmidt, 2014). Whistleblowers feel mandated to let the public know if there are malicious activities compromising service delivery to the public. Whistleblowing has been used as a device to empower employees to come out to protect moral principles and organizational ethics. Whistleblowers shed light on malpractices that, if ignored, can cause damage for all stakeholders. Recently, protection for whistleblowing against malpractices that affect the government and public has risen with the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation of 2002 in the United States. Also, the protection of human rights within and outside the organizations has been a key driving factor for whistleblowers (Bardes et al., 2014). For instance, John Tye published a report in The Washington Post in July 2014 giving an insight on the controversial data collection under Executive Order 12333, which intended to give the US intelligence service more powers to collect information on foreign people but ended up compromising the privacy of the American citizen communication freedom. His concerns were to make the public aware of how the order was being used by questioning the privacy of American citizens’ information (Bowman & West, 2015).
As a US State Department official, Tye was privileged to be part of two classified National Security Agency (NSA) meetings about Executive Order 12333 in February 2014. Before leaving the State Department, Tye realized that the intelligence collection and retention of information conducted under the order violated the search warrants as transcribed in the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Following this claim, Tye filed a case with the Department of Inspector General. Later on 18 July 2014, Tye came out publicly by making an editorial concerning the US intelligence actions undertaken under Order 12333. Tye believed that Americans were being deprived of their privacy following how their communication information was being handled without their consent. Following Tye’s whistleblowing act, the NSA and the government came under a big test of accountability and trust from the public. In response, lobby groups reckoned Tye’s disclosure as one that would push forth reforms of activities under Executive Order 12333. Tye managed to show the public that the application of the order in the way the data was being collected and retained would violate the rights of the US citizens. On the side of Tye, the effect was not detrimental since he had moved out of the State Department. Tye maintained ethical discipline since he did not disclose classified information. He developed public approval even though some government quarters did not approve of his actions, but he acted within the law.
Tye was justified for making the bold move of speaking out on what he perceived as a loophole in the application of the Executive Order 12333. The perceived consequences of whistleblowing scared many workers from pointing at the inherent shortcomings, but Tye was moved by his concerns for public welfare. On 17 January 2014, President Obama gave a speech on the NSA’s surveillance reforms that did not capture any changes on Executive Order 12333 (Bowman & West, 2015). This move was evident that the government did not intend to change the activities of Order 12333. Tye tried internal channels at the State Department to initiate his concerns. The House Intelligence Committee gave Tye feedback via a letter that it had taken the necessary measures to address his concerns. Tye realized that no changes had been effected, and thus he sought to go public on 18 July 2014. His patience and observation of ethical procedures justify his sole goal to have the rights of every American protected through reforms.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act protection
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act encourages whistleblowing by providing criminal sanctions for retaliation against whistleblowers. This act provides Tye with protection from harassment at the same time, ensuring that he has limits to preserve the privacy of the institution. In the protection of public interests, Sarbanes-Oxley Act has provisions to protect members of the public who report the misconduct of organizations that they have information about, even if they are not workers of that particular organization (Sherman & Chambers, 2009). Tye’s desire to act as a public guardian justifies or legitimizes the role of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in offering him protection. In conclusion, whistleblowing enhances performance in public and private organizations.
Bardes, A., Shelley, C., & Schmidt, S. (2014). American government and politics today: The essentials. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Bowman, S., & West, P. (2015). Public service ethics: Individual and institutional responsibilities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sherman, W., & Chambers, V. (2009). SOX as Safeguard and Signal: The Impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 on US Corporations’ Choice to List Abroad. Multinational Business Review, 17(3), 4-21.