evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, former employees, and applicants for
federal employment. 5 U.S.C. § 1213.
DU 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).
retaliation complaint form. See Whistleblower Protection and PPP.
that OSC will (a) refer protected disclosures that establish a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing
to the appropriate agency head, and (b) require the agency head to conduct an investigation,
and submit a written report on the findings of the investigation to the Special Counsel.
If OSC finds no substantial likelihood that the information discloses one or more of the
categories of wrongdoing, the Special Counsel must: (a) inform the whistleblower of the reasons
why the disclosure may not be acted on further; and (b) direct the whistleblower to other
offices available for receiving disclosures.
developed a form which may be used to file a disclosure. OSC Form No. 12, Disclosure of Information.
Use of OSC Form No. 12 is not mandatory. However, if you do not use the form, it is important to include
your name, address and telephone numbers. For assistance with filing a disclosure, or any other
inquiries, please contact the DU Hotline at (800) 572-2249 or (202) 254-3640.
DU attorneys evaluate the disclosures to determine whether or not there is a substantial likelihood that
one of the following conditions has been disclosed: a violation of law, rule or regulation, gross
mismanagement, gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, and a substantial and specific danger to
public health and safety. Disclosures are reviewed in the order they are received with disclosures of
dangers to public health and safety receiving high priority.
OSC will generally not consider anonymous disclosures. If a disclosure is filed by an anonymous
source, the disclosure will be referred to the Office of Inspector General in the appropriate agency. OSC
will take no further action on the disclosure.
OSC does not have authority to investigate the disclosures that it receives. In order to make a
"substantial likelihood" finding, OSC considers a number of factors including whether the disclosure
includes reliable, first-hand information. In general, OSC does not request an agency head to conduct
an investigation based on the whistleblower’s second-hand knowledge of agency wrongdoing.
Individuals with first-hand knowledge of the allegations are encouraged to file disclosures in writing
directly with OSC.
Should OSC find that there is a substantial likelihood that one of the statutory conditions exists, the
Special Counsel will refer the disclosure to the appropriate agency head. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(c). The
head of the agency is then required to conduct an investigation and submit a written report on the
findings of the investigation to the Special Counsel.
The statute requires agency heads to complete the investigation and report back to OSC on their
findings within 60 days. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(c)(1). If an agency needs additional time to complete the
investigation and report, an extension of time may be requested. Extension requests must be submitted
in writing and must state specifically the reasons the additional time is needed. Extensions will only be
granted upon a showing of good cause.
Upon receipt, the agency’s report is reviewed to determine whether it contains the information required
by the statute and whether or not the report’s findings appear to be reasonable. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e)(2). In
addition, the whistleblower is afforded an opportunity to review and comment on the agency report. 5 U.S.
C. § 1213(e)(1). If the report meets the statutory requirements, the Special Counsel then transmits the
report with comments and recommendations to the President and the congressional committees with
oversight responsibility for the agency involved. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e)(3). OSC is also required to place the
report in a public file. 5 U.S.C. § 1219. The whistleblower’s comments are also sent to the President
and congressional oversight committees.
If the report reveals evidence of a criminal violation it will not be sent to the whistleblower, nor does it
become part of the public file. Instead, the agency is required to forward the information directly to the
Attorney General and to notify the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and
Budget of the referral.
5 U.S.C. § 1213(f).
The Special Counsel may also refer cases to the head of an agency where no substantial likelihood
determination has been made. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(g)(2). In these cases, the Special Counsel has the
discretion to transmit the information provided by the whistleblower to the head of the agency identified
in the disclosure. The agency head is then required to inform OSC in writing, within a reasonable time,
what action has been or will be taken, and when such action will be completed. The whistleblower is
also informed of the referral to the agency head.
All statements contained in this page are subject to change and update. EEO 21 does not take responsibility for any
errors or misrepresentation contained therein.
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