5 U.S. Code § 1212 - Powers and functions of the Office of Special Counsel

(a) The Office of Special Counsel shall—
(1) in accordance with section 1214 (a) and other applicable provisions of this subchapter, protect employees, former employees, and applicants for employment from prohibited personnel practices;
(2) receive and investigate allegations of prohibited personnel practices, and, where appropriate—
(A) bring petitions for stays, and petitions for corrective action, under section 1214; and
(B) file a complaint or make recommendations for disciplinary action under section 1215;
(3) receive, review, and, where appropriate, forward to the Attorney General or an agency head under section 1213, disclosures of violations of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;
(4) review rules and regulations issued by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management in carrying out functions under section 1103 and, where the Special Counsel finds that any such rule or regulation would, on its face or as implemented, require the commission of a prohibited personnel practice, file a written complaint with the Board; and
(5) investigate and, where appropriate, bring actions concerning allegations of violations of other laws within the jurisdiction of the Office of Special Counsel (as referred to in section 1216).
(b)
(1) The Special Counsel and any employee of the Office of Special Counsel designated by the Special Counsel may administer oaths, examine witnesses, take depositions, and receive evidence.
(2) The Special Counsel may—
(A) issue subpoenas; and
(B) order the taking of depositions and order responses to written interrogatories;
in the same manner as provided under section 1204.
(3)
(A) In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under paragraph (2)(A), the Special Counsel may apply to the Merit Systems Protection Board to enforce the subpoena in court pursuant to section 1204 (c).
(B) A subpoena under paragraph (2)(A) may, in the case of any individual outside the territorial jurisdiction of any court of the United States, be served in the manner referred to in subsection (d) ofsection 1204, and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia may, with respect to any such individual, compel compliance in accordance with such subsection.
(4) Witnesses (whether appearing voluntarily or under subpoena) shall be paid the same fee and mileage allowances which are paid subpoenaed witnesses in the courts of the United States.
(c)
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Special Counsel may as a matter of right intervene or otherwise participate in any proceeding before the Merit Systems Protection Board, except that the Special Counsel shall comply with the rules of the Board.
(2) The Special Counsel may not intervene in an action brought by an individual under section 1221, or in an appeal brought by an individual under section 7701, without the consent of such individual.
(d)
(1) The Special Counsel may appoint the legal, administrative, and support personnel necessary to perform the functions of the Special Counsel.
(2) Any appointment made under this subsection shall be made in accordance with the provisions of this title, except that such appointment shall not be subject to the approval or supervision of the Office of Personnel Management or the Executive Office of the President (other than approval required under section 3324 or subchapter VIII of chapter 33).
(e) The Special Counsel may prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to perform the functions of the Special Counsel. Such regulations shall be published in the Federal Register.
(f) The Special Counsel may not issue any advisory opinion concerning any law, rule, or regulation (other than an advisory opinion concerning chapter 15 or subchapter III of chapter 73).
(g)
(1) The Special Counsel may not respond to any inquiry or disclose any information from or about any person making an allegation under section 1214 (a), except in accordance with the provisions of section 552a of title 5, United States Code, or as required by any other applicable Federal law.
(2) Notwithstanding the exception under paragraph (1), the Special Counsel may not respond to any inquiry concerning an evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, general qualifications, character, loyalty, or suitability for any personnel action of any person described in paragraph (1)—
(A) unless the consent of the individual as to whom the information pertains is obtained in advance; or
(B) except upon request of an agency which requires such information in order to make a determination concerning an individual’s having access to the information unauthorized disclosure of which could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.
(h)
(1) The Special Counsel is authorized to appear as amicus curiae in any action brought in a court of the United States related to section 2302 (b)(8) or (9), or as otherwise authorized by law. In any such action, the Special Counsel is authorized to present the views of the Special Counsel with respect to compliance with section 2302 (b)(8) or (9) and the impact court decisions would have on the enforcement of such provisions of law.
(2) A court of the United States shall grant the application of the Special Counsel to appear in any such action for the purposes described under subsection (a).

Source

(Added Pub. L. 101–12, § 3(a)(13),Apr. 10, 1989, 103 Stat. 19; amended Pub. L. 103–424, § 3(b),Oct. 29, 1994, 108 Stat. 4362; Pub. L. 112–199, title I, § 113,Nov. 27, 2012, 126 Stat. 1472.)
Amendments

2012—Subsec. (h). Pub. L. 112–199added subsec. (h).
1994—Subsec. (g)(1). Pub. L. 103–424, § 3(b)(1) substituted “disclose any information from or about” for “provide information concerning”.
Subsec. (g)(2). Pub. L. 103–424, § 3(b)(2), substituted “an evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, general qualifications, character, loyalty, or suitability for any personnel action of any” for “a matter described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 2302 (b)(2) in connection with a”.
Effective Date of 2012 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 112–199effective 30 days after Nov. 27, 2012, see section 202 ofPub. L. 112–199, set out as a note under section 1204 of this title.
Policy Statement Regarding Implementation of Whistleblower Protection Act

Pub. L. 103–424, § 12(a),Oct. 29, 1994, 108 Stat. 4366, provided that: “No later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 29, 1994], the Special Counsel shall issue a policy statement regarding the implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 [see Short Title of 1989 Amendment note set out under section 1201 of this title]. Such policy statement shall be made available to each person alleging a prohibited personnel practice described under section 2302 (b)(8) of title 5, United States Code, and shall include detailed guidelines identifying specific categories of information that may (or may not) be communicated to agency officials for an investigative purpose, or for the purpose of obtaining corrective action under section 1214 of title 5, United States Code, or disciplinary action under section 1215 of such title, the circumstances under which such information is likely to be disclosed, and whether or not the consent of any person is required in advance of any such communication.”
Annual Survey of Individuals Seeking Assistance

Pub. L. 103–424, § 13,Oct. 29, 1994, 108 Stat. 4367, provided that:
“(a) In General.—The Office of Special Counsel shall, after consulting with the Office of Policy and Evaluation of the Merit Systems Protection Board, conduct an annual survey of all individuals who contact the Office of Special Counsel for assistance. The survey shall—
“(1) determine if the individual seeking assistance was fully apprised of their rights;
“(2) determine whether the individual was successful either at the Office of Special Counsel or the Merit Systems Protection Board; and
“(3) determine if the individual, whether successful or not, was satisfied with the treatment received from the Office of Special Counsel.
“(b) Report.—The results of the survey conducted under subsection (a) shall be published in the annual report of the Office of Special Counsel.”

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5 CFR - Administrative Personnel

5 CFR Part 1800 - FILING OF COMPLAINTS AND ALLEGATIONS

5 CFR Part 1810 - INVESTIGATIVE AUTHORITY OF THE SPECIAL COUNSEL

5 CFR Part 1820 - FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS; PRODUCTION OF RECORDS OR TESTIMONY

5 CFR Part 1830 - PRIVACY

5 CFR Part 1840 - SUBPOENAS

 

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