Whistleblower agency issues policy on adverse actions


A rapid increase in the number of federal employees seeking to prevent agencies from implementing adverse personnel actions against them has led the Office of Special Counsel to publish a policy on handling such requests.

Under federal law, OSC can file requests to the Merit Systems Protection Board for stays of adverse actions taken by agencies against employees, such as suspensions or reductions in pay. OSC investigates allegations by federal employees and applicants of prohibited personnel practices, particularly complaints charging retaliation against whistleblowers.

Deputy Special Counsel Tim Hannapel said that OSC recently has seen an influx of stay requests from employees. In response, OSC issued a statement outlining its criteria for approving requests to help employees better understand the process.

OSC says it must have "reasonable grounds" to consider a stay request, and will only do so if an agency is trying to take a serious action against an employee.

"We are not going to seek a stay if what you are complaining about is a written reprimand from your supervisor, as opposed to a more serious personnel action-for example being fired, or being forced to relocate," said Hannapel.

MSPB can grant employees stays of up to 45 days, but OSC can ask the board for extensions. According to a spokeswoman for the Office of the Special Counsel, agencies frequently agree to grant stays during OSC investigations.

In fiscal 1999, OSC obtained approximately 15 stays of adverse action against employees. The majority of cases involved claims of retaliation for whistleblowing.

Hannapel said the written policy and announcement on stay requests is part of OSC's effort to keep employees, agencies and Congress informed about OSC policies.

"The fact that this [the stay policy] is written down will allow for a more consistent application," Hannapel said.

OSC's stay policy is available in the online OSC reading room.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.