U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
Personnel Violation at State Dept
Watchdog Agency Wins Corrective Action
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 6/25/07***
CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714,
WASHINGTON, DC – Officials at the Department of State improperly reissued
a recruitment announcement after their preferred candidate failed to qualify the
first time, reports an independent agency responsible for worker protections
within the federal government.
A report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
contains details of the informal settlement reached with the State Department,
including multiple measures to address the violation. The position will be
announced again with a new evaluating team, and training on proper procedures
will be conducted.
OSC investigates and prosecutes allegations of
Prohibited Personnel Practices, anti-discrimination provisions designed to
protect worker rights and the merit system within the federal government.
Granting an unauthorized preference or advantage to any
employee or applicant for the purpose of improving the employment prospects of a
particular person is prohibited. OSC found that agency officials improperly
re-advertised for a vacant position, and included a new rating and ranking
factor, after their preferred candidate failed to qualify under the initial
Special Counsel Scott Bloch said, “The Prohibited
Personnel Practice law is designed to protect the merit system against just this
sort of improper shenanigans. OSC’s job is to act as watchdogs against such, and
it is a role we will continue to faithfully execute.”
In January 2007, OSC sent the State Department a Report
of Prohibited Personnel Practices, reporting violations of 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(6)
and 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(12). Maintaining that any violation was unintentional,
the agency agreed to take full corrective action. Specifically, the agency
agreed to re-advertise the position and to contact previous applicants to
determine their continued interest.
In addition, none of the officials involved in the
first selection will be involved in making a selection under the re-advertised
vacancy. The agency further agreed to require training in prohibited personnel
practices for all subject officials and certain human resources staff. Because
the Department of State demonstrated good faith by agreeing to the above
corrective action, the OSC is not releasing the names of either the employee or
agency officials involved and has agreed to this confidential settlement.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in federal employment by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1 (800) 872-9855.
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