There are a couple of basics to know about whistleblowing, and the first -- and most important -- is that there are local and federal protections for those that blow the whistle on illegal workplace activity. Without such protections, not only would there be fewer whistleblowers in general, but the ones who did take the admittedly-risky step would be even more at risk.
The other aspect of whistleblowing is that the individual who tips investigators to the illegal activity is entitled to compensation. But again, this is not as important as having your rights upheld if you are in a whistleblowing situation. You cannot be retaliated against for calling out illegal activity.
These points are highlighted by a whistleblower case that centers on the Central Intelligence Agency and a few companies that wanted to keep contract work with the agency.
The whistleblower says that three companies that do wiring and cable work for the CIA paid employees to ensure they would retain CIA contracts, specifically for two new building projects. Dinners, international trips, and tickets to sporting events were common kickbacks that the contractors would give to the CIA to ensure they retained their work with the agency.
The case went to trial, and it was recently settled. The three companies involved in the kickback scheme will pay $3 million for their illegal activity; the whistleblower will receive nearly $600,000 for his intelligence.
Again, blowing the whistle is a tough choice, and it is not without risks -- but you are protected when you make the decision. Your rights cannot be infringed upon simply because you make the morally-correct choice.
Source: CBS DC, "$3M Whistleblower Settlement in CIA Kickback Case," March 7, 2013