Last week, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”), an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that handles claims of wrongdoing within the executive branch of the federal government, proposed revising its regulations to expand the categories of employees who may file a whistleblower disclosure with OSC. Currently, only federal government employees can disclose to the OSC information that they believe shows: (1) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; (2) gross mismanagement; (3) a gross waste of funds; (4) an abuse of authority; or (5) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
OSC has proposed expanding the rule to allow employees of federal contractors, subcontractors, and grant recipients to report wrongdoing within the federal government if they work at or on behalf of a federal government component for which OSC has jurisdiction to accept disclosures. OSC emphasized in the proposed rule that, as the modern workforce has changed, the government increasingly relies on contractors to work alongside federal employees. Therefore, contractors are similarly situated to observe or experience the same type of wrongdoing as federal employees and, consequently, should receive a safe channel to report government misconduct. The proposed rule would provide anti-retaliation protections for employees who make reports to the OSC.
The public may submit written or electronic comments concerning this proposed rule until March 23, 2015. Additional information regarding the proposed rule can be found here.