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Prohibited Personnel Practices

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Overview to OSC's handling of PPP complaints

This video explains how complaints of prohibited personnel practices are handled by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​FAQs

Q:What are prohibited personnel practices (PPPs)?

A:

Prohibited personnel practices, commonly called PPPs, are employment-related activities that are banned in the federal workforce because they violate the merit system through some form of employment discrimination; retaliation; improper hiring practices; or failure to adhere to laws, rules, and regulations that concern the merit system principles.

Q:OSC’s information says most employees, applicants, and former employees can file PPP complaints. Can you explain who fits those categories?

A:

An employee is a person appointed in the civil service and engaged in the performance of a federal function. The full definition appears at 5 U.S.C. §2105. An applicant is a person who has applied for a position described above. A former employee is a person who formerly held a position described above. 


 

Q:I am a VA patient. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

​No. OSC does not have jurisdiction over complaints from patients of the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding their treatment at a VA facility. OSC also lacks jurisdiction over complaints of fraud with respect to VA benefits. If you have such a complaint, we recommend you contact the VA's Office of Inspector General at 1-800-488-8244.​

Q:I am a HUD resident. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

​No. OSC does not have jurisdiction over complaints from residents of the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding their housing situations in HUD facilities. OSC also lacks jurisdiction over complaints of fraud with respect to HUD benefits. If you have such a complaint, we recommend you contact HUD's Office of Inspector General at 1-800-347-3735.​

Q:I work for the Postal Service. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

Maybe. OSC has limited jurisdiction over complaints from U.S. Postal Service employees. OSC can only review complaints from postal service employees that allege unlawful nepotism that allege unlawful nepotism or arbitrary and capricious withholding under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(7); 5 U.S.C. § 1216; 39 U.S.C. § 410(b) . If you believe that a Postal Service employee has hired, advanced, or advocated for the employment of a relative, you can file a complaint at OSC. All other complaints should be directed elsewhere.

Q:I am a government contractor or employee of a government contractor. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

No. OSC's jurisdiction is limited to complaints from federal employees. OSC does not have jurisdiction over government contractors or employees of government contractors. This is true even for contractors who work directly for federal agencies. Employees of contractors can bring a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the Office of Inspector General at the agency for whom the employee performed work under a government contract. Employee of contractors may also be eligible to file qui tam actions under the False Claims Act. More information about the False Claims Act is available here​. ​​​​​

Q:I am a uniformed officer of the military. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

No. OSC has no authority to investigate PPP allegations from members of the uniformed service or to petition the Merit Systems Protection Board for disciplinary actions involving military officials (members of the uniformed services), since they are not "employees" who are "appointed in the civil service." See 5 U.S.C. § 2105. As defined in 5 U.S.C. § 2101(3), "uniformed services" means the armed forces, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.​​​​

Q:I am a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

No. Employees of the Public Health Service are considered members of the "uniformed services," as described in the question above. Therefore, although these positions include civilian employment, that civilian employment is predicated upon your uniformed service. However, employees of the Public Health Service can file whistleblower retaliation complaints with the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services.​​

Q:I am a non-appropriated fund (NAF) employee. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

No. OSC lacks jurisdiction over employees whose salaries are paid using non-appropriated funds. These include employees of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, military post exchanges, or other instrumentalities whose purpose is the comfort, pleasure, and contentment of the armed forces.​​​​​

Q:I believe my veterans’ preference rights were violated. Can I file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

Complaints alleging denial of veterans' preference requirements must be filed with the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) at the Department of Labor. There is a 60-day deadline for filing these complaints. The Department of Labor's website explains how to file a veterans' preference complaint​.

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