U. S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES AWARD OF FIRST CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE TO THE U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT UNDER LAW REQUIRING AGENCIES TO EDUCATE EMPLOYEES ABOUT THE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 5/29/02
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced today that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has been awarded the first-ever certificate of compliance under an OSC program to educate federal employees about the rights and remedies available to them under the prohibited personnel practice and whistleblower retaliation provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). The creation of such programs, in consultation with OSC, was made mandatory by section 2302(c) of Title 5, which was enacted in 1994. Surveys conducted by OSC, however, have revealed that many agencies are unaware of their statutory obligations and that compliance with the requirement is not widespread.
OPM achieved compliance with section 2302(c) by meeting five requirements under the OSC program. These included: 1) placing informational posters about WPA protections at OPM facilities; 2) providing information about these protections to new employees as part of the orientation process; 3) sending e-mail information to current employees about their rights and remedies under the WPA; 4) WPA training for supervisors; and 5) creation of a hyper link from the OPMís web site to OSCís.
OPM Director James agreed last fall to make OPM the first federal agency to implement the OSC program, and in March appeared jointly with Special Counsel Kaplan at a mandatory training session for OPM managers, underscoring the importance that both agencies place upon this undertaking.
In announcing the issuance of the certificate, Special Counsel Kaplan stated, ďI am very grateful that OPM, under the leadership of Director Kay Coles James, agreed to pilot OSCís educational program about the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the other laws that enforce the merit system principles. By making OPM the first agency to receive certification under our program, Director James has put into practice her pledge to make OPM a model for the rest of the federal government. I strongly encourage other federal agencies to follow OPMís example by accepting our invitation to implement the certification program at their worksite.Ē A photograph of Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan awarding the certificate to OPM Director Kay Coles James, taken May 28th, is available at
OSC is meeting today with officials of nine of the largest federal agencies to introduce the program, and hopes to invite all other agencies to participate later this year.
The Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging the commission of prohibited personnel practices by federal agencies, including whistleblower retaliation. In cases where an OSC investigation reveals reasonable grounds to believe a prohibited personnel practice has been committed, and an agency declines to voluntarily provide relief to a complainant, OSC may prosecute a petition for corrective and/or disciplinary action before the Merit Systems Protection Board. OSC also operates an outreach program, designed to assist federal agencies in informing employees about their rights and remedies under the
Whistleblower Protection Act, and related laws.