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U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT OF COMPLAINT ALLEGING MISUSE OF OUTSTANDING SCHOLAR PROGRAM AND FAILURE TO APPOINT DISPLACED ARCHEOLOGIST


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 7/25/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
(202) 653-7984

   The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced the favorable settlement of a complaint filed with it by archeologist Roger L. Wardlow who alleged that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had violated the federal government’s Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) by failing to appoint him to a vacant archeologist position in Buffalo, Wyoming. 

    Mr. Wardlow lost his position as an archeologist with the federal government when his job was abolished in 1999 and was entitled to another federal appointment under ICTAP. 

    OSC investigated Mr. Wardlow’s complaint and found that the BLM failed to consider him for the job vacancy and, instead, appointed another archeologist, without announcing the position, through its Outstanding Scholar Program (OSP). Federal regulations, however, specify that ICTAP job candidates must be selected over OSP applicants and that vacancy announcements must specify that well-qualified ICTAP candidates will receive selection priority. 

    Upon learning from OSC that it had improperly used the OSP, the local BLM office offered Mr. Wardlow a retroactive appointment as an archeologist. It agreed to provide him all backpay and benefits that he would have been entitled to if the initial appointment had been made under ICTAP. In addition, to prevent future misuse of the OSP, BLM has issued Bureau-wide guidance to its local offices on the correct use of that appointment authority, ICTAP, and the rights of displaced federal employees. 

    Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan stated, “I want to commend BLM’s Wyoming State Director, Alan Pierson, for cooperating with our investigation and for responding promptly and responsibly to OSC’s findings.” Ms. Kaplan stated that, “once it became clear that an improper hiring decision had been made, the State Director immediately accepted full responsibility for correcting the error and making Mr. Wardlow whole under the law.” Ms. Kaplan further stated that while OSC stands “ready and eager to prosecute meritorious cases, its ability to achieve favorable results through mutual cooperation without need for litigation contributes significantly to the public’s interest.” 

    The failure to appoint an eligible displaced employee in violation of ICTAP requirements is a prohibited personnel practice under 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(12). All federal officials with delegated authority for personnel management have a legal duty to prevent prohibited personnel practices from occurring. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(c).

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the Merit Systems Protection Board charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices. OSC investigations frequently result in the favorable resolution of complaints without litigation. 

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