The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing. For a description of prohibited personnel practices (PPPs), click here.
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. For more information on how we process PPP complaints, click here.
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. For more information on our Disclosure Unit, click here.
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.
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 MSPB. For more information on our Hatch Act Unit, click here.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (Veterans’ Rights)
OSC protects the civilian employment and reemployment rights of military veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve by enforcing the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). For more information about our USERRA program, click here.
Section 2302(c) of title 5 of the U.S. Code makes agency heads and officials with personnel authority responsible (in consultation with 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 OSC and MSPB.
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. Click here for web and PDF versions of this resource.