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Shows & Panels
The Office of Special Counsel, the agency tasked with investigating federal-agency whistleblower claims and protecting whistleblowers, themselves, from retaliation has seen demand for its work skyrocket in the wake of recent legislative changes. Now, Carolyn Lerner, the head of the OSC, said she hopes the small agency's budget will keep pace.
The Office of Special Counsel is "deeply concerned" about the implications of a federal court ruling that stripped low-level Defense Department employees of their ability to appeal suspensions and demotions outside the agency. OSC, which filed an amicus brief earlier this month with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, is worried the ruling could have a chilling effect on whistleblowers.
In the letter sent Monday to the White House and Congress, the Office of Special Counsel said an initial 2009 report by a whistleblower employee at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., alleged that the staff routinely failed to properly clean and sterilize reusable medical equipment such as scalpels and bone cutters.
President Barack Obama signed legislation Tuesday that affords greater protection to federal employees who expose fraud, waste and abuse in government operations.
The Office of Special Counsel found the HHS Secretary's remarks in February at a gala violated the law prohibiting federal employees from engaging in partisan actions. Kathleen Sebelius contends she didn't break the law.
The head of the Federal Aviation Administration says an independent federal agency is investigating allegations that FAA managers in Seattle urged employees to vote Democratic in the upcoming election.FAA acting Administrator Michael Huerta says no one from his agency or elsewhere in the Obama administration gave such directions about how to vote.
The Office of Special Counsel is reminding agencies not to target email monitoring of employees that could have a chilling effect on whistleblowers who report waste, fraud and abuse.
Acting administrator Michael Huerta had few answers for members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee concerning the FAA's lack of progress on pilot training and safety regulations. Huerta said the final directive is expected to be out by October 2013. He also said the NextGen system is making progress and establishing important baselines.
State and local investigations make it difficult for investigators to probe possible Hatch Act violations by federal employees, said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. The Office of Special Counsel is asking Congress to remove OSC's duty of policing state and local issues, so it can focus on federal cases.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday, calling attention to reports of safety lapses at some U.S. commercial aviation facilities. She also criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for delays in responding to whistleblower disclosures.
Experts say all the focus on Capitol Hill and within agencies will lead to better management and give more respect to whistleblowers. Carolyn Lerner, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, said the attention on the misdeeds of the Public Buildings Service would bolster the need for stronger ethics and integrity.
The American Federation of Government Employees has asked the Office of Special Counsel to investigate the case of a VA doctor who believes she was unfairly targeted by superiors due to her critical Senate testimony.
Not all claims of agency wrongdoing wind up with the agency IG's office. Some employees turn to the Office of Special Counsel, the independent investigative agency that acts under the authority of the Whistleblower Protection Act. OSC's relatively-low profile has grown since Carolyn Lerner, the head of the office, joined the agency about nine months ago.
The Office of Personnel Management recently reminded federal agencies that the White House has "zero tolerance" for discriminating against veterans in hiring and promotions. But the federal government is still one of the biggest offenders. Patrick Boulay from the Office of Special Counsel told the Federal Drive about a new pilot program aimed at streamlining the complaint process for veterans in the federal government.
Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of the Hatch Act unit of the Office of Special Counsel, spoke to In Depth with Francis Rose about which common political activities could get federal employees in hot water.
Jon Greiner's election to the Utah Senate caused his firing as Ogden police chief. Philadelphia transit cop Matthew Arlen was barred from a local school board race in Pennsylvania. And New York state port official Terrence Hurley was knocked out of a county race.
Two small agencies with large responsibilities toward the federal workforce say they've trimmed all the fat from their budgets and will need more resources to keep up with increasing caseloads. Merit Systems Protection Board Chairman Susan Tsui Grundmann told a Senate subcommittee she worries about impending staff retirements as well. The Office of Special Counsel is also feeling pressure to do more with less.
Debra Roth, a partner at Shaw, Bransford and Roth, said the Hatch Act Modernization of 2012 would widen the array of penalties for violating the law that governs political activities by government workers.
A group of lawmakers has proposed an update to the law governing federal employees' political activity that would exempt some state and local employees and allow for a range of penalties other than automatic suspension for minor violations.
In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeff Zients, the two lawmakers say the Food and Drug Administration lawsuit raises broader questions about how other agencies monitor employee use of personal email. The House and Senate members want OMB to conduct a governmentwide analysis of these policies.