2302(c) for Government Corporations

​​​​​​​​Background

Congress enacted 5 U.S.C. § 2302(c) in response to reports of limited understanding in the federal workforce concerning employees' right to be free from prohibited personnel practices (PPPs), especially retaliation for whistleblowing. Section 2302(c) requires agency heads to ensure, in consultation with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), that employees are informed of the rights and remedies available to them under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA), the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), and related laws . In 2002, OSC established a "2302(c) Certification Program" to provide agencies and agency components with a process for meeting this statutory requirement. In 2014, the White House directed agencies to take affirmative steps to complete OSC's program.

Government Corporations are subject to 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) in cases of alleged prohibited personnel practices described under subsection (b)(8) or section 2302(b​)(9)(A)(i), (B), (C), or (D); thus, Government Corporations are required to complete 2302(c) Certification regarding only these applicable subsections.

In accordance with a February 2014 memora​ndum from the White House's Chief Technology Officer and the White House's 2013 second Open Government National Action Plan, agencies must establish a plan for completing OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program. Final plans must be posted on agency websites by June 1, 2014. In developing a plan for certification, agency "Senior Accountable Government Officials" may wish to coordinate with their agency's OIG Whistleblower Ombudsperson program. The whistleblower ombudsperson programs also have subject matter expertise in this area. 

Certification Program Overview

OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program allows federal agencies to meet the statutory obligation to inform their workforces about the rights and remedies available to them under the CSRA, the WPA, and the Whistleblower Protection and Enhancement Act (WPEA) and meet the requirements of the second Open Government National Action Plan. 

Most agencies should be able to complete the certification process within six months of registering with OSC and we are committed to assisting all federal agencies with meeting the requirements of 5 U.S.C. § 2302(c). 

The 2302(c) Certification Program consists of 3 steps: (1) registration, (2) completion of the five requirements, (3) request for certification. Additional information on each step is provided under "Certification Process" below.

STEP 1: Start the certification process by submitting the registration form.

STEP 2: Complete the following five certification requirements:

  1. Place informational posters at agency facilities
  2. Provide information about the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures to new employees as part of the orientation process
  3. Provide information to current employees about the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures
  4. Train supervisors on the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures
  5. Display a link to OSC's website on the agency's website or intranet

 STEP 3: Request certification by submitting the compliance form and supporting documentation. If all requirements have been met, OSC will issue the agency's certification.

​Certification Process

STEP 1: Registration

To begin the 2302(c) Certification Program process, fill out the registration form and email the form to OSC at 2302c@osc.gov. The registration process allows OSC to provide additional assistance to agencies seeking certification. If you have any questions regarding the program, please email questions to the above email address or call the 2302(c) helpline at (202) 804-7163​​. Once OSC receives the completed form, we will enroll you in the 2302(c) Certification Program and list your agency on OSC's website.

​STEP 2: Complete the five certification requirements:

1. Place informational posters at agency facilities

Post the laws regarding the applicable Prohibited Personnel Practices (PPPs) as well as information regarding the process for making confidential disclosures to OSC. Posters containing this information should be displayed in all personnel and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) offices and in other prominent places throughout the agency.

The following posters are required to be posted throughout your agency and made available on your intranet in order to obtain certification, the versions below have been adapted for Government Corporations:

  • "Whistleblowing": Defines a "whistleblower" as someone who discloses information he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
  • "Whistleblower Retaliation​": Asks, "What is whistleblower retaliation?" A federal employee authorized to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action may not take, fail to take, or threaten to take any personnel action against an employee because of protected whistleblowing. Cites an example. Defines "protected whistleblowing."
  • "Prohibited Personnel Practices​" (PPPs): Lists applicable prohibitions, including: whistleblower retaliation; discrimination for engaging in conduct unrelated to work performance, such as discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation; and hiring and promotion offenses that offend the merit system. 5 U.S.C. §§ 2302(b)(8)-(b)(9).

The following materials, though not required to obtain certification, are also highly recommended:

2. Provide information about the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures to new employees as part of the orientation process

Provide, in new employee orientation packets, written materials on PPPs applicable to Government Corporations, whistleblower disclosures, and OSC's role in enforcing the laws over which it has jurisdiction. OSC has created informational materials, including an outline of PPP rights and remedies ("Your Rights as an Employee of a Government Corporation​" and "Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs​") that can either be printed or sent via e-mail.

3. Provide information to current employees about the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures

Provide to all employees on an annual basis, written materials on the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures. Agencies should also include this information on agency websites. As noted above, OSC has developed materials that can be e-mailed to help agencies fulfill this requirement. A sample letter/email that may be sent to agency employees is available here​.

4. Train supervisors on the applicable PPPs and whistleblower disclosures

In consultation with OSC, provide training to managers and supervisors every three years to ensure their understanding of their responsibilities under the applicable PPP and whistleblower protection provisions of Title 5. If your agency elects to use forms or training materials outside of the materials provided by OSC, you must send the materials to OSC prior to dissemination to ensure the materials meet the requirements of the Certification Program.  OSC strongly recommends in-person, interactive training, especially for high-level managers and supervisors. Supervisory training should be tracked to ensure that all supervisors have been trained prior to filling out the compliance form. OSC has developed several options to aid agencies in fulfilling this requirement of the program, including a newly-developed training quiz, a PowerPoint ​presentation​, and as noted above, OSC provides speakers for satellite and/or local training, or to address larger groups of employees.

  • Retaliation Training Quiz​ (please note this PowerPoint is not intended as a standalone training tool, instead it should be used as a supplement to in-person training or may be provided to supervisors in addition to having them complete the quiz)

5. Display a link to OSC's website on the agency's website or intranet

Provide a link from each agency's website or intranet site to the OSC website (www.osc.gov).

STEP 3: Request certification by submitting the compliance form

After completing the five requirements of the program, fill out the compliance form​ and email the form and supporting documentation to 2302c@osc.gov. After OSC reviews the submission and ensures satisfaction of the five requirements, we will grant the agency a certificate of compliance indicating the agency's fulfillment of the statutory obligation under section 2302(c), as well as compliance with the second Open Government National Action Plan. Additionally, we list certified agencies on OSC's website and report federal agencies' compliance with OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program annually to Congress.

​Recertification

Government Corporations are required to recertify every three years. After a corporation receives initial certification from OSC, the corporation may recertify by providing OSC with verification that the supervisory training was completed (must be completed every three years for all supervisors) and that the corporation continues to meet the other requirements of the program such as issuing an annual notice to all employees about their rights and remedies under the applicable PPPs and rights to file whistleblower disclosures

Register: OSC encourages recertifying agencies to register with OSC as they approach the end of their certification period. To register, complete the registration form and email the form to 2302c@osc.gov. If you have any questions regarding the program, please email questions to the above email address or call the 2302(c) helpline at (703) 466-0259. Once OSC receives the completed form, we will enroll you in the 2302(c) Certification Program and list your agency on OSC's website.

Updates/ Approval of Materials: Changes to the law may have occurred since your initial certification. To avoid delays in recertification, it is strongly recommended that agencies contact OSC before completing recertification requirements in order to arrange for OSC to provide training and/or to ensure all materials (including internally created training documents) are up to date. Please note that if your agency elects to use forms or training materials outside of the materials provided by OSC, you must send the materials to OSC prior to dissemination to ensure the materials meet the requirements of the Certification Program.

Request Recertification: After completing the five requirements of the program, fill out the compliance form, then email the form and supporting documentation to 2302c@osc.gov​. After OSC reviews the form submitted items and ensures completion of the five requirements, we will grant the agency a certificate of compliance indicating the agency's fulfillment of the statutory obligation under section 2302(c) as well as compliance with the second Open Government National Action Plan. Additionally, we list certified agencies on OSC's website and report federal agencies' compliance with OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program annually to Congress.