Whistleblower Procedures

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OverviewOSC’s Disclosure Unit (DU) serves as a safe conduit for the receipt and evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, former employees, and applicants for federal employment. 5 U.S.C. § 1213.

You may file a disclosure claim either on-line using OSC Form 12 (E-File button), via fax numbers 202-254-3711, or mail: Office of Special Counsel, 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218, Washington, DC 20036. You may use either OSC Form 12 (Whistleblower Disclosure), or you may submit your disclosure in writing to us without using the form. A disclosure does not focus on resolving personnel decisions involving or against the filer or other individuals. As a result, an employee who believes he or she has suffered reprisal for whistleblowing may elect to file both OSC Form 11 (Prohibited Personnel Practices), for reprisal or prohibited personnel practice allegation, and OSC Form 12 (Whistleblower Disclosure), for the underlying misconduct.

The Disclosure Unit evaluates disclosures, which are separate and distinct from complaints of reprisal or retaliation for whistleblowing activities. A reprisal or retaliation claim is reviewed by OSC’s Complaints Examining Unit as a prohibited personnel practice. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(8)(b). Claims of prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing, may be pursued by filing a complaint with OSC’s Complaints Examining Unit (OSC Form 11, Complaint of Prohibited Personnel Practice). You can also alert OSC to possible wrongdoing in a federal agency through a whistleblower disclosure (OSC Form 12, Whistleblower Disclosure).

DU attorneys review five types of disclosures specified in the statute: violations of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; and a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(b). The disclosures are evaluated to determine whether or not there is sufficient information to conclude with a substantial likelihood that one of these conditions has been disclosed.

DU processes disclosures differently from other government whistleblower channels in at least three ways: (1) federal law guarantees confidentiality to the whistleblower; (2) the Special Counsel may order an agency head to investigate and report on the disclosure; and (3) after any such investigation, the Special Counsel must send the agency's report, with the whistleblower's comments, to the President and Congressional oversight committees.

As stated above, a whistleblower’s identity will not be revealed without his or her consent. However, in the unusual case where the Special Counsel determines there is an imminent danger to public health or safety or imminent violation of any criminal law, the Special Counsel has the authority to reveal the whistleblower’s identity. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(h).