Antitrust Division Observes National Whistleblower Appreciation Day
(STL.News) The Antitrust Division today commemorates National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, which celebrates individuals who act with courage to speak out and report crimes, including antitrust violations like price-fixing, bid rigging and market allocation conspiracies. Collusion among competitors undermines fair competition and harm consumers, and individuals who step forward to shine a light on illegal practices deserve recognition. This year marks the 243rd anniversary of the United States’ first whistleblower law and also the first year for the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (CAARA), signed into law on Dec. 23, 2020.
“We acknowledge whistleblowers’ courage and conviction in the face of adversity — their protection has been critical in exposing illegal activity,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “This year marks another milestone for these protections with the passage of the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, a law that will further our efforts to root out antitrust crimes that undermine our economy and cheat American consumers, workers, and taxpayers of the benefits of free and fair competition.”
CAARA provides legal protections for employees who blow the whistle on criminal antitrust violations by prohibiting employers from taking punitive actions against whistleblowers for reporting these violations to their employer or assisting a federal government investigation into a criminal antitrust violation. The law protects employees, contractors, subcontractors and agents of the employer. Detecting antitrust violations can prevent or reduce harm to victims of antitrust crimes. For example, by some estimates, eliminating bid rigging could reduce government procurement costs by 20% — a significant sum when the budget for discretionary spending on public procurement is more than $580 billion, as it was in 2019.
Consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, the Antitrust Division will continue to work in partnership with our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Labor to effectively implement CAARA’s whistleblower protections, including by offering antitrust training and providing guidance on federal antitrust law to the officials who administer CAARA at the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
The Antitrust Division maintains a Citizen Complaint Center, where concerned citizens may report antitrust concerns via email, U.S. mail or phone. The Procurement Collusion Strike Force, a department initiative led by the Antitrust Division, also encourages citizens to report complaints about antitrust and other crimes that affect government procurement at all levels — federal, state and local.