OSC Issues New Whistleblower Protection Guidelines to Agencies

February 6, 2018 10:30 AM , Updated February 16, 2018 9:26 AM
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Image of a referee's whistle next to the words 'Whistleblower Protection Act'

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently issued new memoranda to federal agencies on implementing newly enacted whistleblower protections. The memos also provided updates on prior whistleblower guidance.

The first memorandum reminds agencies of their requirement to modify and enact training and education provisions on prohibited personnel practices, including whistleblower retaliation, and establish new disciplinary requirements. These new requirements are the result of two pieces of legislation President Trump signed into law at the end of 2017: the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, and the OSC Reauthorization Act of 2017.

The WhistleBlower Protection Act of 2017 provides additional protections to federal employees who are retaliated against for disclosing waste, fraud, and abuse by increasing protections for federal employees, increasing awareness of federal whistleblower protections, and increasing accountability and requiring discipline for supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers.

The second memorandum urges departments and agencies to ensure that their non-disclosure policies, forms, and agreements conform to statutory requirements on protected whistleblowing.

The third memo is an update to a 2012 memo that identified certain legal restrictions and guidelines agencies should consider when evaluating their policies and practices about monitoring employee communications.

“The new measures enacted by Congress and signed by the President fill gaps in current protections and enhance accountability for whistleblower retaliation,” OSC Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said. “Protecting whistleblowers and increasing accountability for retaliation promote good government and the responsible use of tax dollars. OSC is ready and available to help agencies fulfill their whistleblower obligations.”

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.