Corrected at 6:12 p.m. on Dec. 15. The original copy read “Revenue Fiscal Affairs Office,” and has been updated to include “and.”
Whistleblowers who work at state agencies could gain new protections under a bill in the general assembly.
Lawmakers approved the measure, introduced by Rep. Laurie Funderburk, in a state House ethics study committee Monday. “I believe that they deserve protection if they are going to come forward and report wrongdoing in government,” said Funderburk, a Democrat from Camden.
Among the bill’s provisions is a measure that removes a $2,000 cap on an award employees can receive from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, which is currently an arm of the state Budget and Control Board. Funderburk said the current award isn’t much if a worker is faced with losing his or her job. “The way it exists right now,” she said, “it’s not worth it to report the wrongdoing.”
Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, praised the measure. She said she was at a recent event for state employees, where workers from the Department of Social Services said they feared for their jobs if they gave details about things happening in the agency.
Agency spokeswoman, Marilyn Matheus said separate human resources and internal investigation divisions are available for employees who want to make a complaint. It isn’t just one person making hiring and firing decisions, she said. Several avenues are in place for employees with concerns.
The agency faced a series of hearings in 2014 before a group of Senators trying to put an end to heavy caseloads and high turnover. The former director, Lillian Koller stepped down in June after lawmakers investigated the agency in the death of several children who had been abused.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley today announced she had appointed Susan Alford as agency director. Alford previously served for 13 years at the state Department of Juvenile Justice.