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According to this summary document on house.gov, they're not. I thought this was very interesting considering all the hubbub in the House of Representatives about the FBI agents being or not being whistleblowers.

Who Is(n’t) Covered?

Most executive branch employees, former employees, and applicants fall within the WPA’s protections because they are part of the merit system that governs the federal civil service under Title 5 of the U.S. Code. Employees of the Government Publishing Office, a Legislative Branch agency, are also covered. (5 U.S.C. § 2302(a)(2)(C)). However, some executive branch employees are excluded from the WPA’s protections, including (but not limited to):

❖ Political appointees (e.g. federal inspectors general)

❖ Uniformed military service members

❖ Noncareer Senior Executive Service employees

❖ Employees of the 17 different intelligence community “elements” and the FBI

❖ Members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

❖ Officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Commissioned Corps

❖ Employees of the U.S. Postal Service

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This particular list of excluded branches seems to refer to those who are able to excercise whistleblowing protections through the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. It does not mean that employees excluded by these rules would be unable to whistleblow at all. Rather, the government channels through which they are able to seek protection are likely through a different office. In so far as I can tell, USOSC might restrict the FBI from protection services because they protect employees who go to the Media. FBI agents often handle classified material which would not be allowed to be disclosed to the media and many intel agency employees are required to submit any documents they intend to publish based off knowledge aquired from their employment for a pre-publishing review to make sure no classified material is leaked, and would thus limit the way the employee could whistleblow.

Just because this particular office does not provide protection services to the listed employees, it does not mean there is an agency or department that does provide them (Usually the Office of General Inspector for the particular agency in question. While they are attached to the agency they cover, they are not within the chain of command of the agency itself and are independent to them.).

For that reason, just because the rules that apply to most do not cover FBI Whistle Blowers, it does not mean an FBI employee cannot become a whistle blower. They just cannot use the services of USOSC in their whistleblowing efforts.

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    Ah, here we go: oversight.gov/content/… - the fact sheet should really provide that link after the list of exclusions. May 19, 2023 at 14:58
  • @MattChambers I believe the employees of relevant agencies are given the contact info on their own internal communications.
    – hszmv
    May 19, 2023 at 16:19

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