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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
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Personnel Violation at State Dept
Watchdog Agency Wins Corrective Action 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 6/25/07
CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov
    
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 vacancy announcement.

     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.


 

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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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