A slew of whistleblower complaints from the Veterans Affairs Department has made this anything but a normal year for the Office of Special Counsel. VA's troubles have raised the profile of this small agency that protects federal employees from prohibited personnel practices. Its leader, Carolyn Lerner, gives Federal Drive with Tom Temin the highlights of the agency's new annual report to Congress.
OSC sends a letter directly to the President outlining mismanagement within VA and targeting of whistleblowers for disciplinary action.
The Office of Special Counsel saw a 17 percent jump in whistleblower retaliations and other personnel cases in 2014 as compared to 2013. OSC tells Congress it expects 2015 will be busier.
Three whistleblowers at the Veterans Affairs Department are the "Public Servants of the Year." The Office of Special Counsel awarded the employees, all doctors, with the distinction. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said, "because of these doctors' efforts, veterans are now far more likely to receive the treatment they deserve." Federal News Radio's Emily Kopp was at the ceremony and joined Tom Temin on the Federal Drive to discuss their story.
Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project told a House subcommittee Tuesday that some agencies are circumventing the protections provided by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.
The Office of Special Counsel is investigating more than three dozen claims of whistleblower retaliation at the scandal-rocked Veterans Affairs Department. The 37 cases OSC is investigating span VA facilities in 19 states. They include VA employees who say they've been retaliated against for disclosing a range of misconduct, including improper scheduling practices, the misuse of agency funds and inappropriately restraining patients, according to OSC.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 is one tool that is helping to build federal employees' trust in their agencies. More employees are reporting waste, fraud and abuse to the Office of Special Counsel. As part of our special report Trust Redefined: Reconnecting Government and its Employees, Tom and Emily spoke with Carolyn Lerner on the Federal Drive. She says the new law lets her office more aggressively defend both whistleblowers and the federal government's merit system.
The heads of both the Office of Special Counsel and Merit Systems Protection Board tell Federal News Radio as part of our special report, "Trust Redefined: Reconnecting Government and Its Employees," that their increasing workloads could actually be a sign of progress, and that more employees feel protected enough to make whistleblower disclosures. However, an exclusive Federal News Radio survey reveals a wide chasm of trust remains when it comes to feds blowing the whistle at work.
A customer service representative at the IRS who repeatedly greeted taxpayers calling a help-line with a chant urging President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012 could now be facing significant disciplinary action, according to the Office of Special Counsel. It's one of three cases of improper political activity at the agency recently uncovered by OSC. Meanwhile, three career officials at Customs and Border Protection are under fire by OSC for allegedly manipulating the hiring process to install job candidates favored by political leadership into career appointments.
Union and CBP officials call for reform of outdated OT pay system, saying the purpose of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime was misinterpreted.
The Office of Special Counsel, the agency tasked with investigating federal-agency whistleblower claims and protecting whistleblowers, themselves, from retaliation has seen demand for its work skyrocket in the wake of recent legislative changes. Now, Carolyn Lerner, the head of the OSC, said she hopes the small agency's budget will keep pace.
On the Federal Drive show blog, you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.
The Office of Special Counsel found the HHS Secretary's remarks in February at a gala violated the law prohibiting federal employees from engaging in partisan actions. Kathleen Sebelius contends she didn't break the law.
State and local investigations make it difficult for investigators to probe possible Hatch Act violations by federal employees, said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. The Office of Special Counsel is asking Congress to remove OSC's duty of policing state and local issues, so it can focus on federal cases.