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    The Office of Special Council (OSC)’s Disclosure Unit (DU) serves as a safe conduit for the receipt and
    evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, former employees, and applicants for
    federal employment. 5 U.S.C. § 1213.

    DU evaluates disclosures, which are separate and distinct from complaints of reprisal or retaliation for
    whistleblowing activities. A reprisal or retaliation claim is reviewed by OSC’s Complaints Examining Unit
    as a prohibited personnel practice. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(8)(b).  

    Download OSC-12: whistleblower disclosure form.

    OSC does not have authority to investigate the disclosures that it receives. The law provides
    that OSC will (a) refer protected disclosures that establish a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing
    to the appropriate agency head, and (b) require the agency head to conduct an investigation,
    and submit a written report on the findings of the investigation to the Special Counsel.

    If OSC finds no substantial likelihood that the information discloses one or more of the
    categories of wrongdoing, the Special Counsel must: (a) inform the whistleblower of the reasons
    why the disclosure may not be acted on further; and (b) direct the whistleblower to other
    offices available for receiving disclosures.

    Whistleblowers must make their disclosures to OSC in writing. To facilitate this process, OSC has
    developed a form which may be used to file a disclosure. OSC Form No. 12, Disclosure of Information.  
    Use of OSC Form No. 12 is not mandatory. However, if you do not use the form, it is important to include
    your name, address and telephone numbers. For assistance with filing a disclosure, or any other
    inquiries, please contact the DU Hotline at (800) 572-2249 or (202) 254-3640.

    DU attorneys evaluate the disclosures to determine whether or not there is a substantial likelihood that
    one of the following conditions has been disclosed: a violation of law, rule or regulation, gross
    mismanagement, gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, and a substantial and specific danger to
    public health and safety. Disclosures are reviewed in the order they are received with disclosures of
    dangers to public health and safety receiving high priority.

    OSC will generally not consider anonymous disclosures. If a disclosure is filed by an anonymous
    source, the disclosure will be referred to the Office of Inspector General in the appropriate agency. OSC
    will take no further action on the disclosure.

    OSC does not have authority to investigate the disclosures that it receives. In order to make a
    "substantial likelihood" finding, OSC considers a number of factors including whether the disclosure
    includes reliable, first-hand information. In general, OSC does not request an agency head to conduct
    an investigation based on the whistleblower’s second-hand knowledge of agency wrongdoing.
    Individuals with first-hand knowledge of the allegations are encouraged to file disclosures in writing
    directly with OSC.

    Should OSC find that there is a substantial likelihood that one of the statutory conditions exists, the
    Special Counsel will refer the disclosure to the appropriate agency head.  5 U.S.C. § 1213(c). The
    head of the agency is then required to conduct an investigation and submit a written report on the
    findings of the investigation to the Special Counsel.

    The statute requires agency heads to complete the investigation and report back to OSC on their
    findings within 60 days. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(c)(1). If an agency needs additional time to complete the
    investigation and report, an extension of time may be requested. Extension requests must be submitted
    in writing and must state specifically the reasons the additional time is needed. Extensions will only be
    granted upon a showing of good cause.

    Upon receipt, the agency’s report is reviewed to determine whether it contains the information required
    by the statute and whether or not the report’s findings appear to be reasonable. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e)(2). In
    addition, the whistleblower is afforded an opportunity to review and comment on the agency report. 5 U.S.
    C. § 1213(e)(1). If the report meets the statutory requirements, the Special Counsel then transmits the
    report with comments and recommendations to the President and the congressional committees with
    oversight responsibility for the agency involved. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e)(3). OSC is also required to place the
    report in a public file. 5 U.S.C. § 1219. The whistleblower’s comments are also sent to the President
    and congressional oversight committees.

    If the report reveals evidence of a criminal violation it will not be sent to the whistleblower, nor does it
    become part of the public file. Instead, the agency is required to forward the information directly to the
    Attorney General and to notify the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and
    Budget of the referral.
    5 U.S.C. § 1213(f).

    The Special Counsel may also refer cases to the head of an agency where no substantial likelihood
    determination has been made. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(g)(2). In these cases, the Special Counsel has the
    discretion to transmit the information provided by the whistleblower to the head of the agency identified
    in the disclosure. The agency head is then required to inform OSC in writing, within a reasonable time,
    what action has been or will be taken, and when such action will be completed. The whistleblower is
    also informed of the referral to the agency head.

    (from http://osc.gov/wbdisc.htm)

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