Federal employees turned to the Office of Special Counsel in record numbers last year to file complaints of whistleblower retaliation, prohibited personnel practices, and other violations of law and policy.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal agency whose “primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.” It has been led by Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner since 2011.
“Fiscal year (FY) 2014 was a record-breaking year for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC),” according to the FY 2014 OSC annual report that was transmitted to Congress last month.
“For the first time, OSC received over 5,000 cases, a 17 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. The number of prohibited personnel practice (PPP) complaints was also at an all-time high, 3,371, nearly a thousand more than just four years prior. We also received significantly more whistleblower disclosures in FY 2014 than in past years.”
OSC said it has effectively intervened in a growing number of cases, which tends to inspire even more complaints to be filed, perhaps to the point of unsustainability.
“The number of favorable outcomes for whistleblowers and other employees across the government continues to break all-time records,” the report said. “OSC secured 177 favorable outcomes in 2014 helping to restore the careers of courageous public servants who blew the whistle on fraud, waste and abuse, or encountered another form of prohibited conduct in the government. This total represents an increase of 185 percent over six years ago.”
“These victories for whistleblowers, the taxpayers, and the merit system showcase OSC’s effectiveness and increase awareness of the agency in the federal community. As a result, the number of employees seeking OSC’s assistance continues to grow, posing daunting challenges to the agency.”
“We anticipate receiving over 6,000 new cases in FY 2015, more than a 60 percent increase over the ten-year averaged annual case load level. OSC already faces the largest case backlog in agency history,” the OSC annual report said.