Office of Special Counsel
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is "an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency" whose "basic authorities come from three federal statutes": the Civil Service Reform Act (web), the Whistleblower Protection Act (web), and the Hatch Act (web).
- 1 Mission
- 2 Whistleblowing cases
- 3 Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- 4 Organization
- 5 Contact information
- 6 Related SourceWatch articles
- 7 Resources and articles
"OSC's primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing," according to its website. 
Tania Branigan reported in the July 21, 2003, Washington Post that the backlog of whistleblower cases was growing:
- "Hundreds of whistleblower complaints about waste, fraud and abuse in government are going unexamined, with the backlog of cases at the Office of Special Counsel more than doubling in the past 18 months, according to newly obtained figures.
- "Former special counsel Elaine Kaplan, who left office last month, said the problem was so intense that she believed only one case had been reviewed within the statutory period of 15 working days during her five years in office. The majority of the reports can take more than six months to resolve.
- "Kaplan said the disclosure unit was a victim of its own success, receiving an increasing number of allegations as federal staff became aware of its work. The number of complaints has risen by almost half since October 1991 -- with 555 disclosures of wrongdoing filed in the fiscal year that ended September 2002 -- and staff has been unable to keep up.
- "As of June 30, there were 628 cases awaiting review, two-thirds of which had been with the OSC for more than six months, according to figures from the agency's latest annual report and further internal statistics obtained by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which represents workers who have filed disclosures. At the end of 2001, 245 cases were pending.
- "Nor does the increase in reports seem to reflect a rise in frivolous or unfounded claims; a greater proportion of disclosures was referred for investigation and fewer closed due to insufficient evidence.
- "An OSC spokesman said the agency was aware of the backlog, but he did not provide further comment.
- "Kaplan, who now works for the Washington law firm Bernabei and Katz, said the disclosure unit had only two staff members when she became special counsel. It now has eight full-time employees."
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
"OSC protects the reemployment rights of federal employee military veterans and reservists under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)." 
Timothy W. Maier, wrote December 27, 2003, for WorldNetDaily that "Pink slips greet returning soldiers. Many U.S. military go from front lines to unemployment line":
- "Capt. Sam Wright [ombudsman for the Reserve Officers Association] ... [who] helped draft USERRA, says that ... filing complaints with the Labor Department and relying on the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate the charge, there would not have been a happy ending."
- "'In the almost nine years since USERRA was enacted the OSC has brought not one single USERRA case to the MSPB,' Wright charges. He explains that the OSC position has been, 'Congress did not consult us before giving us this additional responsibility, and Congress did not give us any additional resources to do the job, so we just say no.'
- "In a letter to Scott J. Bloch, who will take charge of the OSC as soon as the Senate confirms him, Wright suggested that Bloch's top priority should be to correct this problem. 'You should vigorously enforce USERRA, even if it means that you have to cut back on something else,' he wrote. 'The brave young men and women who have left their civilian jobs to serve our country under conditions of physical danger and financial deprivation certainly deserve no less.'
- "During hearings before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Bloch indeed addressed the issue, saying, 'They did their job. Let's give them their job back.' But senior attorneys at the OSC let it be known that they were angered and shocked by Bloch's comments and suggest their new boss has been 'misinformed' and that there is a 'miscommunication problem.' Other senior officials at the OSC were quick to claim that very few of these cases are referred to the office and those that they do receive often are without merit.
- "But Insight's analysis of these cases handled by the OSC during the last five years indicates a record that is far from stellar. During fiscal 1998 to fiscal 2002, the OSC handled 55 such cases. Of those, only one was referred to the MSPB (Merits System Protection Board). In two other cases, the OSC obtained some corrective action in favor of the veteran, but 46 other cases were declined outright while six still are pending. Some of the cases, the OSC claims, concern unfounded discrimination complaints. Little wonder that veterans see the OSC as a losing proposition."
See OSC Organizational Chart.
- Scott J. Bloch, Special Counsel
Related SourceWatch articles
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- Bush administration U.S. attorney firings controversy
- Carl Levin
- civil liberties
- gay rights
Resources and articles
Articles by Scott J. Bloch
- Opinion: "Protecting Whistle-Blowers and the Public," Washington Post, September 23, 2006.
- Stefan Styrsky, "Lawmakers Demand Watchdog Resigns. Excluding gays from protections violates established practice say Dems," Gay City News, February 14-20, 2004 (cache file).
- Stephen Barr, "Gay Rights Information Taken Off Site. New GOP Head of Agency Says He Is Reviewing Material," Washington Post (Federal GLOBE), February 18, 2004.
- "Federal GLOBE Finds OSC Head Scott Bloch's Explanation Implausible," Federal GLOBE, February 19, 2004.
- "Joint POGO, PEER & GAP Letter to Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch regarding gag order on career staff of the OSC," Project on Government Oversight, April 15, 2004.
- "the chopping bloch," elf-reflection, February 12, 2004.
- Stephen Barr, "Gay Rights Information Taken Off Site. New GOP Head of Agency Says He Is Reviewing Material," Washington Post, February 18, 2004: "The Web pages at the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency whose mission is to protect whistleblowers and other federal employees from retribution, has removed references to sexual orientation from a discrimination complaint form, training slides, a brochure titled 'Your Rights as a Federal Employee' and other documents. ... Scott J. Bloch, the agency head, said he ordered the material removed because of uncertainty over whether a provision of civil service law applies to federal workers who claim unfair treatment because they are gay, bisexual or heterosexual."
- Amelia Gruber and Chris Strohm, "A New Day," GovExec.com, March 5, 2004.
- Paul Johnson, "Gov't stops investigating gay bias claims," 365Gay (Unknown News), March 14, 2004.
- Paul Johnson, "Feds can fire gay workers, says Office of Special Counsel," 365Gay (Unknown News), March 17, 2004.
- "White House reverses policy: Gays protected from job discrimination (until after the election)," Washington Post (Unknown News), April 4, 2004.
- Bill Berkowitz, "Bloch-ing Justice. When Scott Bloch became head of the Office of Special Counsel he declared war on equal protection for gays in federal workplaces," Dissident Voice, October 12, 2004.
- "Washington insiders expose own agencies," Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2004.
- "Crony Hiring by Special Counsel Target of Lawsuit — Former Boarding School Headmaster Retained as Consultant," PEER, November 17, 2004.
- Bill Berkowitz, "The Chopping Bloch. Running amuck as head of the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch is charged with assembling his own 'palace guard'," Dissident Voice, December 28, 2004.
- "Staff 'Purge' at Office of Special Counsel — Whistleblower Staff Claiming Retaliation Forced Moves to New," PEER, January 10, 2005.
- "Staff 'Purge' at Office of Special Counsel. Whistleblower Staff Claiming Retaliation. Forced Moves to New 'Midwest Field Office'," Project on Government Oversight, January 10, 2005.
- Christopher Lee, "Head of Worker Protection Office Is Accused of Retaliatory Transfers," Washington Post, January 11, 2005.
- "Urge Congress to Investigate General Counsel Scott Bloch," Project on Government Oversight, January 11, 2005.
- Brian Dominick, "Federal Whistleblower Office Accused of 'Purging' Staff," New Standard News, January 13, 2005.
- "Special Counsel Staff Handed Pink Slips; Seven Fired for Refusing Moves to Dallas and Detroit," PEER (Common Dreams), February 8, 2005.
- Lou Chibarro Jr., "Gay OSC employee fired for refusing transfer order. Members of Congress call for probe of ‘purge’ by Bloch," Washington Blade, February 18, 2005.
- "More Than a Thousand Whistleblower Cases Dumped — Special Counsel Dismisses Hundreds of Disclosures and Complaints in Past Year," PEER, February 23, 2005.
- Paul Singer, "Whistleblower office to be subject of workers' complaint," CongressDaily (GovExec.com), March 3, 2005.
- "Whistleblower Staff Blow the Whistle on Special Counsel. OSC Staff Want Independent Investigation of Illegal Personnel Practices," PEER (Freedom of Information Center; Common Dreams), March 3, 2005.
- Jerry Seper, "Federal employees file rights complaint," Washington Times, March 4, 2005.
- "Call For Independent Investigation Into Anti-Gay Practices Of Bush Appointee," 365Gay.com, March 4, 2005.
- Doreen Brandt, "Heat On Bloch Intensifies Over Anti-Gay Practices," 365Gay.com, March 7, 2005.
- Andrea Seabrook, "Federal Whistleblower Office Faces Criticism," NPR, March 9, 2005.
- Stephen Barr, "Agency's Reorganization Results in Accusations, Employees Leaving," Washington Post, March 18, 2005.
- "FBI to Investigate Whistleblower Protection Agency New Complaint Charges Partisanship in Enforcement of Hatch Act," Project on Government Oversight (Common Dreams), March 31, 2005.
- "FBI to Investigate Whistleblower Protection Agency Head — New Complaint Alleges Condoleezza Rice Probe Shelved Until After Election," PEER, March 31, 2005.
- John R. Wilke, "Crying Foul at Whistle-Blower Protector. Some Staff From U.S. Office of Special Counsel Claim Wrongdoing by the Agency's Chief," Wall Street Journal (Mindfully.org), March 31, 2005.
- "FBI to Investigate Whistleblower Protection Agency Head. New Complaint Alleges Condoleezza Rice Probe Shelved Until After Election," PEER (YubaNet.com archive), April 1, 2005.
- Daniel Pulliam, "Hatching Bias," GovExec.com, April 1, 2005.
- "Special Counsel Hired Son’s Boarding School Headmaster; Consultant Deal Worth $112,000 Produces Only a Four-Page Memo," PEER (Common Dreams), April 12, 2005.
- Daniel Pulliam, "Backing Whistleblowers," GovExec.com, April 15, 2005.
- "Senate backing whistleblowers," Stygius Blog, April 15, 2005.
- "Special Counsel Ignores Expensive Advice — Bloch Does the Opposite of Key Recommendations in $140,000 Report," PEER, April 19, 2005.
- Daniel Pulliam, "Groups call for whistleblowers to come forward," GovExec.com, April 26, 2005.
- "Scott Bloch's wonderland," Stygius Blog, April 30, 2005.
- Stefan Styrsky, "US. GAO to Look into Scott Bloch’s Methods of Dismissing Cases," San Francisco Bay Times, May 12, 2005.
- Christopher Lee, "Official Says Law Doesn't Cover Gays. Counsel Cites Lack of Authority to Enforce Discrimination Ban," Washington Post, May 24, 2005.
- Doreen Brandt, "Bush Special Counsel: Gay Federal Workers Have No Protections," 365Gay.com, May 25, 2005.
- "PFLAG Joins Log Cabin Republicans in Calling for Bloch Resignation," PFLAG, May 25, 2005.
- Yusef Najafi, "Bloch: No protection for gay federal employees. Activists call for special counsel’s resignation after testimony," Washington Blade (Unknown News), May 27, 2005.
- Doreen Brandt, "Bush Called On To Enforce Gay Civil Service Protections," 365Gay.com, June 7, 2005.
- Paul Johnson, "Lawmakers Urge Bush To Enforce Ban On Gay Discrimination," 365Gay.com, June 20, 2005.
- "Log Cabin Supports Legislation to Guarantee Fairness for Federal Employees," Log Cabin Republicans, June 30, 2005.
- Donna Rose, "Tempest In A Transgender Teacup. The Rest of the Story on HRC Support for HR3128," DonnaRose.com, July 18, 2005.
- "Congress Moves To Protect Gay Federal Workers," 365Gay.com, September 15, 2005.
- "Workplace Improves For Gays But Most Still Have No Protections," 365Gay.com, September 20, 2005.
- Daniel Pulliam, "OPM investigator launches probe of Office of Special Counsel chief," GovExec.com, October 19, 2005.
- Doreen Brandt, "Special Counsel Bloch Subject Of Inspector General Probe In Gay Bias Complaint," 365Gay.com, October 19, 2005.
- OPM Inspector General to Investigate Allegations of Prohibited Personnel Practices at the Office of Special Counsel, Office of Personnel Management, October 20, 2005.
- Michelle Chen, "Federal Employee Rule Change Alarms Gay-Rights Groups," New Standard News, March 17, 2006.
- Elizabeth Williamson, "A Published Dress Code Is Dressed Down in Furor. Office of Special Counsel Retreats From Sartorial Rules," Washington Post, September 7, 2006.
- "Leave Sharon Stone Look at Home: Govt Sexism Investigator," Project on Government Oversight, September 7, 2006.
- Jenny Mandel, "Report shows little progress reducing case backlog at OSC," GovExec.com, November 9, 2006.
- "Special Counsel Drops Chokehold on Outside Investigation — Waxman Introduces Major Whistleblower Reform Legislation," PEER, April 1, 2007.
- Daniel Schulman, "Office of Special Counsel's War On Whistleblowers," MotherJones, April 24, 2007.
- "Office of Special Counsel: Doan Broke the Law," Think Progress, May 22, 2007. re General Services Administration
- Daniel Pulliam, "Agencies Asked to Preserve Electronic Info," Tech Insider Blog/GovExec.com, June 15, 2007.