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Disclosure of Wrongdoing Overview

​​​​​​​​​​The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) handles disclosures of wrongdoing within the executive branch of the federal government from current federal employees, former federal employees, and applicants for federal employment. (For purposes of this section, former and current employees, and applicants for federal employment are all “employees" or “whistleblowers") The OSC unit responsible for this work is the Disclosure Unit.

The Disclosure Unit reviews six types of disclosures:

  1. Violation of a law, rule, or regulation;
  2. Gross mismanagement;
  3. A gross waste of funds;
  4. An abuse of authority;
  5. A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; and/or
  6. Censorship related to research, analysis, or technical information.

Federal law establishes a unique process for disclosures made to OSC. This process is intended to protect the confidentiality of the whistleblower and ensure that the alleged wrongdoing is investigated and, where necessary, corrected. In brief, when a whistleblower disclosure is filed with OSC:

  1. The Special Counsel may require an agency head to investigate and report on the disclosure;
  2. After the investigation, the Special Counsel sends the agency's report, the whistleblower's comments, and the Special Counsel's determination as to the completeness and apparent reasonableness of the agency report and any corrective action, to the President and congressional oversight committees; and
  3. The information transmitted to the President is made public on OSC's website.

OSC does not have independent investigative authority in these cases. However, Congress has given OSC an important oversight role in reviewing government investigations of potential wrongdoing.

We publish the results of all cases, which can be found in our Public Files here​