United States Office of Special Counsel
The United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from three federal statutes, the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Hatch Act. OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.
PPPs & Whistleblower Protection
OSC receives, investigates, and prosecutes allegations of PPPs, with an emphasis on protecting federal government whistleblowers. OSC seeks corrective action remedies (such as back pay and reinstatement), by negotiation or from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), for injuries suffered by whistleblowers and other complainants. OSC is also authorized to file complaints at the MSPB to seek disciplinary action against individuals who commit PPPs.
OSC provides a secure channel through its Disclosure Unit for federal workers to disclose information about various workplace improprieties, including a violation of law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement and waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial danger to public health or safety.
Hatch Act Unit (Political Activity)
OSC promotes compliance by government employees with legal restrictions on political activity by providing advisory opinions on, and enforcing, the Hatch Act. Every year, OSC’s Hatch Act Unit provides over a thousand advisory opinions, enabling individuals to determine whether their contemplated political activities are permitted under the Act.
The Hatch Act Unit also enforces compliance with the Act. Depending on the severity of the violation, OSC will either issue a warning letter to the employee, or prosecute a violation before the MSPB.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (Veterans’ Rights)
OSC protects the reemployment rights of federal employee military veterans and reservists under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Employee Information Programs
Section 2302(c) of title 5 of the U.S. Code makes agency heads and officials with personnel authority responsible (in consultation with the OSC) for informing federal employees of their rights and remedies under chapters 12 and 23 of title 5. These chapters deal with prohibited personnel practices, whistleblower disclosures, political activity, and access to the OSC and the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The OSC endeavors to assist agencies in carrying out their employee information responsibilities, including by the development of a general guide to federal employee rights and remedies under title 5.
The OSC is headed by the Special Counsel, who is appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate. The agency employs approximately 106 employees (primarily personnel management specialists, investigators and attorneys) to carry out its government-wide responsibilities. They work in the headquarters office in Washington, D.C., and in the Dallas, Texas, and San Francisco Bay Area field offices, and Detroit, Michigan office.
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