Sunday Read: Improvements for New DOJ Whistleblower Program

National Whistleblower Center
5 min readApr 22, 2024


This article highlighting DOJ Whistleblower Program developments was sent as part of NWC’s “Sunday Read” series. For more information like this, please join our mailing list.

There is no one-size-fits-all whistleblower program. Different agencies have their unique incentivization or reward programs — from the Dodd-Frank Act SEC Whistleblower program to the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), which is enforced by the United States Coast Guard.

And though the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has prosecuted many crimes thanks to the tips and contributions of whistleblowers, it does not yet have its own rewards program to incentivize and protect those who come forward. That is about to change, however, as per the DOJ’s announcement in March that it would launch a 90-day sprint to start its own rewards program.

In this Sunday Read, and today — marking the exact mid-point of this “sprint” — the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) reviews its vision for the DOJ’s program and provides resources for those who express their need for a fair and effective whistleblower program.

The Basics of the DOJ Whistleblower Program

On March 7, 2024, the DOJ announced that it would be launching a 90-day sprint to start its own whistleblower rewards program during the American Bar Association’s 39th National Institute on White Collar Crime in San Francisco, California.

During the keynote, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced that the DOJ would encourage to report misconduct through monetary rewards.

“Under current law, the Attorney General is authorized to pay awards for information or assistance leading to civil or criminal forfeitures. In the past, we’ve used this authority here and there — but never as part of a targeted program,” Monaco said. “Now’s the time to expand our use of this tool in corporate misconduct cases and apply it to reward whistleblowing.

“The premise is simple: if an individual helps DOJ discover significant corporate or financial misconduct — otherwise unknown to us — then the individual could qualify to receive a portion of the resulting forfeiture.”

The particulars will be ironed out in over the course of the 90-day period, Monaco indicated. However, the DOJ has still offered sparse information about what features the program will include, and NWC — along with other leaders in the whistleblower and anti-corruption community — have expressed some major concerns.

NWC Leadership In The Media

Whistleblower programs should not be launched hastily, and require careful thought based on historical data and expert input. Upon learning of the DOJ’s intentions, NWC Chairman of the Board Stephen Kohn and founder of the whistleblower law firm, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto LLP began preparing communications. In March, Kohn:

Anonymity and confidentiality are top priorities for Kohn and the NWC, and he quickly called out the DOJ’s spotty track record in that regard.

“Whistleblowers take immense risk coming forward, and the most effective way to mitigate these risks is to provide anonymous and confidential reporting. Without such channels, whistleblowers will either not be willing to come forward or could face retaliation,” Kohn wrote in Bloomberg. “Notably, the DOJ was required to set up anonymous and confidential reporting channels under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, passed in January 2021. Yet since then, the agency has yet to establish such channels. The delay speaks to persistent anti-whistleblower sentiment within the DOJ.”

NWC Launches DOJ Best Practices Campaign

NWC and Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto LLP — as part of the firm’s pro bono advocacy — are partnering to campaign for the implementation of best practices in the DOJ whistleblower program. This has already begun through meetings with DOJ officials, detailed letters, and continued media outreach.

NWC’s campaign page for the DOJ Whistleblower Program calls for:

  • Anonymous and Confidential Reporting Channels
  • Establishment of a Whistleblower Office
  • Inclusion of Whistleblowers Involved in Criminal Misconduct
  • Discretionary Administration of Awards
  • and other protections.

On Tuesday, April 23 at 10:30AM ET, Kohn and NWC Executive Director Siri Nelson will host the next installment of NWC’s Whistleblower Chat series, “Establishing an Effective DOJ Whistleblower Rewards Program to Fight Corruption Worldwide.” The complimentary webinar will explore the significance of the proposed program and how to take action. Register here.

Additional Steps You Can Take:

  • U.S. residents can articulate their opinion by sending NWC’s letter template to DOJ leaders, the Executive Branch, and Congress, explaining why best practices are so important. The process takes 30 seconds.
  • If you are a civil society organization or you work in the anti-corruption field, sign on to our letter to the DOJ from the international anti-corruption community.

Whistleblowers put their jobs, reputations, and sometimes even physical well-being on the line to report fraud, criminal violations, or threats to the environment and public safety.

The DOJ whistleblower program could enable whistleblowers worldwide to further expose corruption and wrongdoings, but it will only succeed if best practices are followed and if the experiences of international relators are taken into consideration.

On An Unrelated Note: What NFP Will Host an Earth Day Trivia Night Fundraiser April 22?

NWC celebrates Earth Day on April 22 with our monthly Trivia Night fundraiser! The fun kicks off at 6PM ET at Sudhouse DC (1340 U Street NW). Broaden your network and put your knowledge to work. Everyone will enjoy happy hour-priced food and drink and the winners will go home with gift cards, books, and other fun prizes.

Get your $5 tickets on Eventbrite.

Resources For Whistleblowers

The decision to come forward is not one to be taken lightly, nor should selecting a whistleblower lawyer. NWC provides resources that can connect you with the right legal professional.

Support NWC

NWC fights to bolster whistleblower programs, inform the public and employees in all sectors about available laws and protections, and help connect them with the right legal representation. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit our awareness building work is made possible with the support of our generous donors. Please consider donating $100 today to help us continue to educate the public on how to find help when it is time for them to blow the whistle, and donors will receive a copy of Rules for Whistleblowers: A Handbook for Doing What’s Right, written by Stephen M. Kohn.

This story was written by Justin Smulison, a professional writer, podcaster, and event host based in New York.



National Whistleblower Center

National Whistleblower Center is the leading nonprofit working with whistleblowers around the world to fight corruption and protect people and the environment.