Prohibited Personnel Practices (PPPs)

Need to start filing a complaint with OSC?

File a Complaint

Videos

http://i3.ytimg.com/vi/ZLLaCZ3Wdyk/mqdefault.jpg
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.

View More

​​​​​​​​​FAQs

Q:May I submit recordings to help document my case?

A:

​Generally OSC will not consider unsolicited audio or video recordings in assessing the merits of your complaint.  If any recordings are submitted, OSC will retain them as part of the record and they will not be returned to you, so do not send an original or sole copy of any video or audio recording.

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:What is the difference between filing a PPP complaint with OSC and making a whistleblower disclosure to OSC?

A:
​OSC investigates and prosecutes PPP complaints involving 13 specific practices that have been made illegal in the federal workforce. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b). In most cases, PPP complaints are filed to challenge a personnel action that directly affects an employee for a prohibited reason.

OSC also serves as a safe conduit for the receipt and evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, applicants, and former employees. 5 U.S.C. § 1213. This evaluation process is separate and distinct from processing PPP complaints of retaliation for whistleblowing activities.​

Q:How can I disclose fraud, waste, and abuse?

A:

Current and former federal employees and applicants can confidentially report information to OSC or a federal agency's Office of Inspector General about any of the following types of wrongdoing: (1) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; (2) gross mismanagement; (3) a gross waste of funds; (4) an abuse of authority; or (5) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. If you choose to make a disclosure at OSC, please submit it through our online system (under "file a complaint") or by printing form OSC-12 and mailing or faxing it to us. Although they may involve a possible violation of law, PPP complaints (such as whistleblower retaliation or illegal hiring practices) are NOT considered disclosures of fraud, waste, and abuse. Such disclosures must be filed using form OSC-11.​

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:Can I file a PPP complaint anonymously at OSC?

A:

Yes. Anonymous complaints are acceptable. However, because we cannot contact an anonymous complainant to obtain additional information, such cases pose substantial investigative challenges. If you want to file a PPP complaint anonymously, you are encouraged to provide a detailed description of the nature of your complaint, including, where possible, names and dates. Alternatively, you may want to review the consent options included on form OSC-11, which give complainants the option of selecting from among three levels of confidentiality. This choice may alleviate some of the concerns you have about providing your name in a PPP complaint against your federal agency. ​

Q:Do I need a lawyer to file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

No. Although you are free to hire an attorney if you wish, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file a PPP complaint. OSC’s attorneys have experience dealing with a wide range of complaints and complainants, and make every effort to communicate with you in a way anyone can understand.​​

Q:Is there a statute of limitations or a deadline for filing a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

No. You can file a PPP complaint at any time. However, it may be difficult to investigate a complaint if there has been a significant lapse of time between an alleged violation and an employee's decision to file with OSC. Witnesses may have left federal employment or may not remember events with clarity, and documents may have been destroyed as part of normal records management procedures. Thus, we encourage you to file your complaint promptly.  ​​

Q:I have filed an EEO complaint and/or administrative grievance. Can I still file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

Maybe. In the majority of cases, you can file a PPP complaint even after you have filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint and/or an administrative grievance about the same issues. If your EEO complaint or administrative grievance has reached a federal court, OSC may not be able to pursue your PPP complaint because we would be bound by the court's decision on certain issues.​

Q:I have filed a union grievance and/or MSPB appeal. Can I still file a PPP complaint at OSC?

A:

Maybe. If you have already filed a union grievance or an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), there is an additional restriction on your ability to file a PPP complaint. The​ law requires that you select only one of three options to address an “otherwise appealable action.” 5 U.S.C. § 7121(g). Otherwise appealable actions include: adverse actions (removals, suspensions that exceed 14 days, reductions in grade or pay, and furloughs for 30 days or less), performance-based removals or reductions in grade, denials of within-grade salary increases, reduction-in-force actions, and denials of restoration or reemployment rights. Thus, if you experienced one of these actions, you may choose only one route to pursue your PPP complaint: (1) a PPP complaint at OSC; (2) a MSPB appeal; or (3) a union grievance. You will be bound by the first option you choose and cannot change your mind if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the first option chosen. Please note that, if you have filed an MSPB appeal, and your filing has not been, or is not likely to be, dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, OSC will not pursue your PPP complaint because we are bound by the MSPB’s decisions. Similarly, if your union grievance or MSPB appeal has reached a federal court, OSC may not be able to pursue your PPP complaint because we would be bound by the court’s decision on certain issues.​

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​.

Q:What is OSC’s policy about PPP complaints of discrimination?

A:

OSC’s treatment of the discrimination complaint will vary depending on the allegations.​

Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability is a PPP. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(1). However, it was not intended that OSC duplicate or bypass the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) process established in both federal agencies and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for redressing discrimination complaints. 5 C.F.R. § 1810.1. Therefore, OSC generally defers discrimination complaints on these bases to the EEO process. At its discretion, however, OSC may investigate discrimination complaints on these bases, particularly where allegations include discrimination as well as other PPPs.

Political affiliation and marital status. Discrimination based on political affiliation or marital status is a PPP. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(1). Because discrimination complaints on these bases are not within EEOC's jurisdiction, OSC examines such complaints.

Sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a PPP. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10). As such, OSC examines such complaints. EEOC has stated that discrimination complaints on these bases also may be brought under the EEO process.

Q:I filed a PPP complaint about discrimination at OSC. Can I still file a complaint with the EEO office at my federal agency?

A:

Yes. OSC generally does not examine discrimination complaints based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability (or handicapping condition). EEOC has stated that discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation or gender identity also may be brought under the EEO process. Therefore, if you are alleging discrimination on any of these bases, you can file a discrimination complaint under the EEO process and with OSC. Note that there are specific time limits for filing discrimination complaints in the EEO process. 29 C.F.R. Part 114.​​

Q:I filed a PPP complaint at OSC. Can I still file a grievance with my union?

A:

Not always. If you have experienced certain actions (i.e., removals, suspensions that exceed 14 days, reductions in grade or pay, and furloughs for 30 days or less, denials of within-grade salary increases, reduction-in-force actions, and denials of restoration or reemployment rights), you must choose either a union grievance, an appeal to the MSPB, or a complaint with OSC.​ Once you have initiated one of these processes, you are limited to the rights associated with that process.

Although there is no law against filing an OSC complaint and a union grievance on personnel actions not listed above, in the interests of efficiency, OSC may close a case that is duplicating another process. ​​

Q:I filed a PPP complaint at OSC. Can I still file an administrative grievance with my federal agency?

A:

Yes. It is permissible to file an administrative grievance with your agency about the same issue(s) covered in a PPP complaint pending at OSC. You can also file a PPP complaint about an action that you have already grieved under an administrative grievance procedure.​

Q:How long does it take for my PPP complaint to be resolved?

A:

OSC makes every effort to resolve PPP complaints expeditiously, but given the variables between cases and the substantial increase in filings in recent years, it is difficult to estimate the length of time required to resolve an issue. If a complaint is closed following a preliminary investigation, that process usually takes about 120 days. If a complaint is referred for further investigation, the process can take significantly longer. ​​​ ​​

Q:Can you tell me over the phone if I have a good case?

A:

No. We can help you determine whether OSC is an appropriate venue to address the complaint you describe but cannot provide legal advice as to whether you have a meritorious complaint or whether you should pursue other potential avenues, such as filing a grievance or filing an appeal at the Merit Systems Protection Board. A recommendation to consider filing a PPP complaint with OSC should not be viewed as an endorsement of the merits of your complaint. If OSC is not an appropriate venue, we try our best to suggest other options.  ​  ​

Q:How do I contact the complaints examiner assigned to my case?

A:

You can contact your examiner by calling 1-800-872-9855 or 202-804-7001. Please provide your name and complaint number (if known), and our staff will be able to direct you to the examiner assigned to your complaint. Additionally, when you speak to your examiner, you can discuss alternate methods of communicating with them.

Q:What documents should I provide to assist my complaints examiner?

A:

Each PPP complaint is different, so each involves different documents. However, there are some documents that will almost always be necessary when reviewing a complaint. If the federal agency has proposed or taken an action against you, whether disciplinary or performance-based, you should provide the proposal, the decision, and any response you provided to the agency. For example, if the agency has proposed your removal, give OSC a copy of that proposal and your response, if you submitted one. If the agency put you on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), provide a copy of your most recent performance appraisal as well as the letter you received from the agency putting you on the PIP. In assessing whether to submit a document to OSC, focus on materials that are directly relevant to the complaint. Submitting large volumes of documents that are not related to the complaint that OSC is examining can delay the investigation of a complaint.​​ You should always maintain the originals of all documents provided to OSC. Only send OSC copies of your supporting documentation, unless otherwise requested.

Q:Should I list witnesses in my PPP complaint?

A:

OSC can usually make a determination regarding whether to refer a complaint for further investigation without interviewing witnesses. However, it can be helpful to send a list of people who took part in, or have knowledge of, the incident(s) described in your PPP complaint.​

Q:How do I add additional information about my PPP complaint?

A:

You can provide additional information by mail, fax, or email. Please be sure to include your name and complaint number (MA-XX-XXXX) in any submission. With this information, OSC can ensure that the materials you send are given to the correct complaints examiner, even if you do not know his or her name or contact information. It is not necessary for you to submit a new Form OSC-11 in order to add new information to your PPP complaint.​​​ Please do not send original documents, as we are not always able to return original documents upon request. Instead, send copies of the documents you wish to have reviewed.

Q:I filed my PPP complaint electronically and now cannot edit my complaint form to add new information. What should I do?

A:

Although you cannot provide additional information by re-accessing the PPP complaint form you filed through our e-filing system, you can submit additional information by following the steps in the question above.


Q:Does OSC investigate every PPP complaint?

A:

Yes. OSC investigates every PPP complaint to the extent necessary to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a PPP has occurred, exists, or is to be taken. However, the depth of investigation varies from case to case. For example, we may be able to determine with minimal investigation that a complaint has not met the basic elements of a PPP. Alternatively, our preliminary investigation may reveal that a more thorough investigation is necessary. In that case, the complaint is referred to OSC's Investigation and Prosecution Division.  ​​​​​

Q:Does OSC tell the federal agency that I filed a PPP complaint?

A:

OSC makes every effort to protect the identity of people who file with us. OSC generally does not alert an agency whenever a complaint is filed against it, nor do we identify the source of a complaint. However, it may be impossible to maintain the anonymity of a complainant when further investigation is required. The nature of the complaint may also identify you as its source.  ​​​

Q:Do I have to cooperate with an OSC investigation?

A:

​Yes. In investigations of matters under civil service law, rule, or regulation​, f​ederal employees are required to provide to OSC any information, testimony, documents, and material unless disclosure is prohibited by law or regulation. Likewise, federal agencies are required to make employees available to testify, on official time, and to provide pertinent records to OSC. OSC may also obtain subpoenas for documents or the attendance and testimony of witnesses. During an investigation, OSC may require employees and others to testify under oath, sign written statements, or respond formally to written questions.​

Q:Can a witness or subject official have a legal representative?

A:

Yes. As a witness or a subject in an OSC investigation, you may choose to have an attorney present at the OSC investigative interview. Witnesses, because they are not the persons responsible for the actions at issue in the PPP complaint, generally do not need legal counsel to advise them when they respond to OSC's questions. If, however, you have been identified as a subject of the investigation, i.e., you may be responsible for the personnel actions at issue, under some circumstances you could be subject to disciplinary action, and you may wish to have legal counsel at the interview. Please note that you are responsible for arranging for your own legal counsel. OSC will not recommend, designate, or arrange for representation for any witness or subject official. We will permit a reasonable amount of time to arrange for representation.​​​​

Q:Can the federal agency send a representative to observe my interview?

A:

No. OSC does not permit an agency to have a representative attend an interview, except in rare circumstances. Similarly, your agency cannot require you to choose an agency attorney as your legal representative. This policy does not prevent an employee from choosing an agency attorney to serve as his or her legal counsel, nor does it require agency counsel to act as the employee's legal representative.​​​

Q:Is OSC my lawyer?

A:

No. While OSC seeks corrective and/or disciplinary actions in meritorious PPP complaints, we do not have an attorney-client relationship with the employees who file with our office. If you would like to have a legal representative during the OSC complaint process, you are welcome to retain your own attorney. However, it is not necessary to hire an attorney to file a complaint with our office. Most of the employees who come to OSC for help represent themselves. Note that communications with OSC are not protected by the attorney-client privilege.​​​​

Q:What remedies are available to address my PPP complaint?

A:

​Many forms of relief are available. They include job restoration, reversal of suspensions and other adverse actions, back pay, compensatory damages and reasonable and foreseeable damages, including attorney's fees. An employee may also ask OSC to request a delay, or "stay," of an adverse personnel action from the Merit Systems Protection Board, pending an investigation. OSC will consider a stay request if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a PPP action was taken. Finally, OSC may seek disciplinary action against any employee who commits a PPP.​​

Q:Does OSC conduct its own investigations of PPP complaints, or do they ask the agency to investigate what I have alleged?

A:

​OSC conducts its own investigation of PPP complaints, including whistleblower retaliation. Our investigations may involve a review of pertinent records and/or interviews of persons with knowledge of the allegations. 

Q:What if my agency retaliates against me for participating in an OSC investigation?

A:

Retaliation for filing an OSC complaint or cooperating with an OSC investigation is a PPP. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(9). If you believe your agency has taken a personnel action against you in reprisal for engaging in either of these protected activities, you may file your own PPP complaint with our office.  ​​​

Q:Can I get the documents OSC obtains from the agency as part of its investigation?

A:

Generally, no. OSC is an investigative and prosecutorial agency. As such, the contents of our case files are usually subject to withholding under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Most case file records are withheld, in whole or in part, on the basis of four of the FOIA's nine exemptions. For more details, please consult our FOIA page.  ​​

Q:My OSC settlement was breached by the federal agency. What can I do?

A:

You should contact the OSC attorney who drafted or facilitated your settlement agreement. She or he will be able to evaluate the circumstances and take appropriate action in the event of a breach.​​

Q:OSC closed my PPP case alleging whistleblower retaliation. Can I appeal this decision?

A:

Yes. If you alleged whistleblower retaliation in your PPP complaint, you may seek corrective action in an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Such an appeal is known as an "individual right of action" (IRA). By law, the employee or applicant must first seek corrective action from OSC before filing an IRA. The IRA may be filed:

  • after OSC closes a matter in which retaliation for whistleblowing has been alleged; or
  • 120 days after a PPP complaint is filed with OSC, if OSC has not notified the complainant that it will seek corrective action.

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 expanded the IRA right to include most 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(9) retaliation claims, including:

  • retaliation for filing a whistleblower appeal, complaint, or grievance;
  • retaliation for assisting an individual in the exercise of an appeal, complaint, or grievance right;
  • retaliation for cooperating with or disclosing information to the Inspector General of a federal agency, or the Special Counsel; or
  • retaliation for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law.​

Procedures for filing an IRA are set forth in MSPB regulations at 5 C.F.R. Part 1209. Note that, if OSC closed your retaliation case, your IRA appeal must be filed within 65 days of the date of the OSC notice advising you that OSC is closing the case or within 60 days after the date you receive the OSC notice, whichever is later. In considering an IRA, the MSPB may refuse to accept any matters that were not specifically presented to OSC first. Similarly, the MSPB will only consider retaliation allegations in an IRA appeal.

Q:OSC closed my case and I did not allege retaliation for whistleblowing in my complaint. Can I appeal this decision?

A:

Yes, but only under some circumstances. The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 expanded the IRA right to include most reprisal claims under 2302(b)(9), which is reprisal for engaging in protected activity. If you alleged reprisal for engaging in any of the following activities under 2302(b)(9), you may file an IRA with the MSPB (if OSC closed your complaint or has not notified you within 120 days that it will seek corrective action your behalf): 

  1. retaliation for filing a whistleblower appeal, complaint, or grievance;
  2. retaliation for assisting an individual in the exercise of an appeal, complaint, or grievance right;
  3. retaliation for cooperating with or disclosing information to the Inspector General of an agency, or the Special Counsel; or
  4. retaliation for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law.

If your complaint did not allege reprisal for whistleblowing under (b)(8) or reprisal for protected activity under (b)(9), the law does not allow you to file an IRA with the MSPB. ​

Q:Can the federal agency have its own representative in an OSC interview?

A:

No. OSC does not permit a federal agency to send a representative to attend OSC interviews, but agency counsel may represent agency employees in limited circumstances. Similarly, an agency cannot require an employee to choose an agency attorney as their personal legal representative. This policy does not prevent an employee from choosing an agency attorney to serve as their legal representative, nor does it require agency counsel to act as their employee's legal representative.  ​​​

Q:What is a federal agency’s responsibility during an OSC investigation?

A:

Federal agencies are required to make employees available to testify, on official time, and to preserve and provide pertinent records to OSC. Civil Service Rule 5.4 (5 C.F.R. § 5.4) provides as follows:

"When required by the Office [of Personnel Management], the Merit Systems Protection Board, or the Special Counsel . . . or by authorized representatives of these bodies, agencies shall make available to them, or their authorized representatives, employees to testify in regard to matters inquired of under the civil service laws, rules, and regulations, and records pertinent to these matters. All such employees, and all applicants and eligibles for positions covered by these rules, shall give to the Office, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Special Counsel, or to their authorized representatives, all information, testimony, documents, and material in regard to the above matters, the disclosure of which is not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation. These employees, applicants, and eligibles shall sign testimony given under oath or affirmation before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Employees are performing official duty when testifying or providing evidence pursuant to this section." 

Additionally, federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against employees who file PPP complaints or cooperate with an OSC investigation.

​​​​​

Q:What information can OSC provide to the federal agency about pending PPP complaints?

A:

Very little. If a federal agency liaison has responded to our request for information in a particular case, OSC staff may state whether the PPP complaint is open or closed, but generally does not provide specific information about the matter, including our factual findings, the progress of our investigation, or the reasons for closing our file. In some cases, an agency may propose corrective action before OSC's investigation is finished. Before entering into settlement negotiations with an agency, OSC would obtain the consent of the complainant to pursue a potential resolution of the case.  ​​​

Q:My PPP case is before the MSPB. Can OSC intervene in my case?

A:

Yes, under certain circumstances. OSC has the authority to formally submit its views on PPP cases pending before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) in one of two ways: intervention or an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief.
 
OSC may choose to intervene in matters it deems highly significant to the proper functioning of the merit system, including cases under the Whistleblower Protection Act. In certain types of cases, OSC must obtain the consent of the person who filed the appeal before intervening. Given our limited resources, OSC cannot intervene on most cases.
 
An amicus curiae brief is a legal argument provided to a court by a person or group who is not a party to the case, but who could be affected by the legal questions it raises. OSC may submit amicus curiae briefs to comment on legal issues that affect our ability to investigate and prosecute prohibited personnel practices. Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 1201.34(e), the MSPB has discretion to accept or reject these submissions.
 
​If you would like OSC to consider a request to intervene or file an amicus curiae brief, send an email to amicus@osc.gov.  Please include:​

  1. The case name and docket number, if they have been assigned;
  2. Whether you are requesting intervention or an amicus curiae brief;
  3. What, if any, action the MSPB has taken in the matter to date;
  4. Whether any MSPB proceedings are scheduled and, if so, what they are about and when they will be held; and
  5. Why you are seeking OSC’s participation, including a description of any novel or important legal issue in the proceeding.​​

​​​​​

Q:My PPP case is before the MSPB. Can OSC file amicus curiae brief?

A:

Yes, under certain circumstances. OSC has the authority to formally submit its views on PPP cases pending before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) in one of two ways: intervention or an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief.

OSC may choose to intervene in matters it deems highly significant to the proper functioning of the merit system, including cases under the Whistleblower Protection Act. In certain types of cases, OSC must obtain the consent of the person who filed the appeal before intervening. Given our limited resources, OSC cannot intervene on most cases.

An amicus curiae brief is a legal argument provided to a court by a person or group who is not a party to the case, but who could be affected by the legal questions it raises. OSC may submit amicus curiae briefs to comment on legal issues that affect our ability to investigate and prosecute prohibited personnel practices. Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 1201.34(e), the MSPB has discretion to accept or reject these submissions.

If you would like OSC to consider a request to intervene or file an amicus curiae brief, send an email to amicus@osc.gov.  Please include:

  1. ​The case name and docket number, if they have been assigned;
  2. Whether you are requesting intervention or an amicus curiae brief;
  3. What, if any, action the MSPB has taken in the matter to date;
  4. Whether any MSPB proceedings are scheduled and, if so, what they are about and when they will be held; and
  5. Why you are seeking OSC's participation, including a description of any novel or important legal issue in the proceeding.

Q:My PPP case is in federal court. Can OSC file amicus curiae brief?

A:

Maybe. An amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief is a legal argument provided to a court by a person or group who is not a party to the case, but who could be affected by the legal questions it raises. OSC may file amicus curiae briefs in federal court cases that contain novel or significant issues of law with respect to 5 U.S.C.  § 2302(b)(8) (whistleblower retaliation) or 5 U.S.C.  § 2302(b)(9) (retaliation for engaging in protected activities), but not in cases involving other PPPs. Please note that while OSC is permitted file amicus curiae briefs in federal court, we cannot assist private litigants in other ways.

​If you would like OSC to consider submitting an amicus curiae brief in your pending federal court case, send an email to amicus@osc.gov.  Please include:

  1. The case name and docket number, if they have been assigned;
  2. What, if any, action the court has taken in the matter to date;
  3. Whether any court proceedings are scheduled and, if so, what they are about and when they will be held; and
  4. Why you are seeking OSC's assistance, including a description of any novel or important legal issue in the proceeding.

Q:My PPP case was wrongly decided by the MSPB or a federal court. Can OSC assist me?

A:

No. OSC cannot change a final ruling by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or a federal court. If your PPP case is or can be appealed, OSC may submit an amicus curiae brief before the MSPB regarding any PPP case, or before a federal court regarding only a case’s impact on the PPPs involving whistleblower retaliation law (see above). OSC cannot provide legal advice on whether to appeal your case, or whether your case may be appealed.

Q:What is 2302(c) certification?

A:

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 Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), the Whistleblower Protection and Enhancement Act (WPEA), and related civil service laws. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(c). It also allows agencies to meet the requirements of the second Open Government National Action Plan. Under the 2302(c) Certification Program, OSC will certify an agency's compliance if the agency meets the following five requirements:

  1. Placing informational posters at agency facilities;

  1. Providing information to new employees about the WPA/WPEA (including the 13 PPPs) as part of the orientation process;
  1. Providing information to current employees on an annual basis about the WPA/WPEA;
  1. Training supervisors every three years on the WPA/WPEA; and
  1. Displaying a link to OSC's website on the agency's website or intranet.

​​

Q:Does OSC offer training?

A:

Yes. OSC offers training to federal agencies and non-federal organizations in each of the areas within OSC's jurisdiction. Specifically, OSC offers training on (1) PPPs, including retaliation for whistleblowing; (2) whistleblower disclosures filed with OSC's Disclosure Unit; (3) the Hatch Act and its application both to federal employees and to state and local employees; and (4) the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Additionally, OSC publishes a variety of materials on PPPs, whistleblower disclosures, and the Hatch Act. These publications can be printed from this website.​​​

​​