U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 201
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES SUSPENSION OF MANAGER ACCUSED OF NEPOTISM AT SSA FIELD OFFICE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 1/29/03
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that, pursuant to agreement, the Director of a Hearing Office for the Social Security Administration (SSA) would be suspended for five days on the basis of an OSC investigation into her alleged nepotism. The complainants, employees of the SSA Hearing Office, alleged that an applicant was selected for a supervisory GS-13 position because she was related to the Hearing Office Director. OSC’s investigation revealed that the Hearing Office Director had recommended to the Regional Administrative Law Judge (the selecting official) that the Director’s cousin be selected for a supervisory position in the office. Under 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(7), it is unlawful for an official to advance or advocate the employment of a relative in a position over which the official exercises control.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, SSA agreed to suspend the Hearing Office Director for five days. It also agreed to readvertise the position and conduct a new selection process outside of the region in which the Hearing Office is located and without any input from the Hearing Office Director.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging the commission of a prohibited personnel practice, 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 will prosecute a petition for corrective and disciplinary action before the Merit Systems Protection Board. In many cases, such as this one, OSC obtains relief for complaining parties through settlement, before it makes a formal finding regarding the merits of the complaint.