On October 19, 2022, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a final rule in the Federal Register (87 Fed.Reg. 63401-63419) updating its regulations in several respects.
Most of the amendments to OSC’s regulations reflect changes in OSC’s filing procedures due to updates in paperwork format (such as switching over references to the forms for use in filing complaints to the current OSC Form 14) and filing methods (for example, taking out language referencing filing with OSC by fax). The rulemaking updates OSC’s regulations to reflect intervening changes in law, such as the Follow the Rules Act and the Kirkpatrick Act (both of which have been analyzed previously in this blog), as well as including provisions clarifying that disclosure of censorship of scientific or technical information could constitute a form of protected whistleblowing disclosure under section 110 of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (also analyzed in this blog). The new rules also clarify that agencies must provide information when requested by OSC even if it contains allegedly privileged information—and that providing the information to OSC does not waive the privilege with respect to outside parties. The new regulations further codified OSC’s updated statutory authority to dismiss complaints under certain circumstances (such as if the claim is more than 3 years old, is outside OSC’s jurisdiction, or had already been either previously investigated by OSC or already filed at the Merit Systems Protection Board). The regulations call for agencies to have OSC liaisons on cases who have no conflicts of interest due to prior involvement in the personnel actions at issue in the complaint. Finally, the new rules update OSC’s Rehabilitation Act regulations, which relate to issues of accommodations and accessibility for the disabled.
If you are a federal employee seeking legal representation any matter before the Office of Special Counsel, or otherwise have questions regarding your legal rights, please consider contacting Gilbert Employment Law, P.C. to request an initial consultation.