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Search Tags: Carolyn Lerner
The Office of the Special Counsel wants to see the law governing the political activity of federal employees updated. Carolyn Lerner, head of the OSC, told Federal News Radio the law is outdated and has led to unintended consequences. The act was created in 1939 when "typewriters were about the most advanced means of communication," Lerner said.
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.
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 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.
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.
Earlier this week, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner notified the president and Congress that the Department of Transportation had not acted promptly or sufficiently to complaints made by FAA whistleblowers.
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.
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.