U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES FAVORABLE
OF VIETNAM VETERANíS COMPLAINT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 8/13/98
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today
announced the favorable settlement of a complaint filed with it by Charles
W. Heckman, Ph.D., a Vietnam Veteran, against the U.S. Forest Service, his
Dr. Heckman applied for a position as an
ecologist/botanist, GS 13/14, with the Institute of Northern Forestry
Cooperative Research at the University of Alaska. As a Vietnam Veteran,
under Veterans Preference rules, Heckman was placed ahead of nonveteran
candidates for the position. Subsequently, Forest Service officials informed
Heckman that his candidacy was preventing the Forest Service from selecting
one of several nonveteran candidates that it preferred. Officials from the
Forest Service and the University of Alaska offered Heckman a temporary
position if he would withdraw from the competition. They also informed him
that if he did not accept their offer, they would cancel the vacancy
announcement and start a new recruitment process.
Section 2302 (b) (5) of title 5, United States Code,
makes it a prohibited personnel practice to influence a candidate to
withdraw from competition. Civil Service rule 4.3 contains a similar
Soon after OSC accepted the complaint, the Office of
Personnel Management (OPM) contacted OSC about the Heckman matter. The
agencies began a joint investigation that called for OSC to focus on the
prohibited personnel practice and OPM to focus on whether systemic hiring
problems existed. Early into the investigation, the Forest Service extended
its cooperation and indicated that it wanted to resolve the matter as
quickly as possible.
Ultimately, the Forest Service offered Heckman a choice
in positions, the job in Fairbanks or a new position in Olympia, Washington.
Heckman chose the position in Olympia where he now works as a GS-14
scientist. The Forest Service disciplined the two individuals who attempted
to influence Heckmanís withdrawal from competition.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel provides an
independent avenue to protect merit systems principles in federal
employment. OSC receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the MSPB,
charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, with
priority given to protecting whistleblowers. In addition, the Office
provides a secure channel for federal employees who possess information
regarding legal violations, gross mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse.