The Office of the Special Counsel Can Improve Its Management of Whistleblower Cases

FPCD-81-10: Published: Dec 30, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1980.

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A review was undertaken of the Office of the Special Counsel, within the Merit Systems Protection Board, to determine how the Office is implementing its responsibilities. Two of the significant responsibilities of the Special Counsel are to: (1) establish procedures to insure that allegations of wrongdoings are properly investigated in the executive branch; and (2) protect from reprisals those employees who disclose information about agency wrongdoings.

In its review, GAO found that there is no system in the Office of Special Counsel to insure that cases are processed in a timely manner. As a result, delays are common in every phase of case processing. One of the major causes for delays in processing is the lack of an effective case-tracking and case-monitoring system. The currently used index card file system has not provided a means for effectively monitoring, managing, and tracking not only whistleblower cases, but also the other types of complaints received by the Special Counsel. Additionally, GAO found that the Special Counsel did not monitor either the implementation, timeliness, or effectiveness of the action taken or proposed by the agencies and that there was confusion about the role and responsibility of the Special Counsel. Further, the Special Counsel has not insured that a whistleblower's allegation is always understood and communicated to the agency involved.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Special Counsel's office should control its caseload by placing a high priority on improving its case-tracking/monitoring system.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board: Office of the Special Counsel

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Special Counsel's office should improve its communication with whistleblowers to assure that their allegations are clearly understood and that they are kept informed of the progress of their cases.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board: Office of the Special Counsel

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Special Counsel's office should follow up on agency reports responding to whistleblower allegations and actively encourage complainants' evaluations and comments to these reports.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board: Office of the Special Counsel

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Special Counsel's office should place greater emphasis on encouraging Federal employees to disclose wrongful activities by more clearly informing agencies and employees of its role in receiving whistleblower complaints.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board: Office of the Special Counsel

 

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