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Hatch Act FAQs are best accessed through the Hatch Act-FAQ portion of the website, because it separates Federal employee questions from state/D.C./local questions.

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Disclosure of Wrongdoing

Q:How is a disclosure to OSC different from disclosures through other government channels?

A:
  • Federal law guarantees your confidentiality;
  • The Special Counsel may order the head of the agency involved to investigate and report on your disclosure; and
  • The Special Counsel may send the agency's report, and your comments, to the President and Congress.​​​

Disclosure of Wrongdoing

Q:What happens when you make a disclosure?

A:

OSC does not independently investigate whistleblower disclosures. If the Special Counsel finds that the information you disclosed is, or is substantially likely to be, the type of wrongdoing described here, OSC will send the information to the head of the agency concerned. OSC will not divulge your identity unless you consent.

The agency head must conduct an investigation and submit a report to the OSC. The Special Counsel then sends the agency report, together with your comments and hers, if any, to the President and the appropriate congressional oversight committees.

Disclosure of Wrongdoing

Q:What happens if the Special Counsel finds that the information you disclosed is not, or is not substantially likely to be, the type of wrongdoing that it can refer to an agency?

A:

If the Special Counsel does not send your information to the agency head, OSC sends you a letter explaining why the Special Counsel did not refer the information. This letter will let you know what other disclosure channels may be available to you.​

At her discretion, the Special Counsel may decide to send the information to the agency head, even if she does not find that it is, or is substantially likely to be, the type of wrongdoing described here​. If she does, the agency head is required to inform the Special Counsel in writing of what action has been or is being taken and when such action shall be completed. The Special Counsel will then inform you of the agency's report.


Disclosure of Wrongdoing

Q:How long does it take?

A:

You will usually hear from an OSC staff member within two weeks of filing your disclosure. The OSC staff member will explain the process and timing to you then.​

Disclosure of Wrongdoing

Q:Are all employees, former employees, or applicants for employment in the federal government able to file a disclosure?

A:

No. OSC does not have jurisdiction over disclosures filed by:

  • Employees of the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission;
  • Members of the armed forces of the United States (i.e., non-civilian military employees);
  • State employees operating under federal grants;
  • Other employees or federal agencies exempt by federal law; and
  • Congressional or judicial branch employees

Certain disclosures that involve foreign intelligence or counterintelligence information must be transmitted immediately by the Special Counsel to the National Security Advisor and congressional intelligence committees.​​​

Prohibited Personnel Practices

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.

Prohibited Personnel Practices

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. 


 

Prohibited Personnel Practices

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.​

Prohibited Personnel Practices

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.​

Prohibited Personnel Practices

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.

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