United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) Law and Legal Definition

Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is a permanent independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that investigates activities prohibited by the civil-service laws, rules, and regulations. OSC’s legislative authority comes from come from four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing. If the investigation warrants it, OSC is also authorized to file complaints before the Merit Systems Protection Board to seek disciplinary action against individuals who commit prohibited personnel practices.

OSC is headed by the Special Counsel, who is appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate. The agency employs approximately 110 employees (primarily personnel management specialists, investigators and attorneys) to carry out its government-wide responsibilities. They work in the headquarters office in Washington, D.C., and in the field offices in Dallas, Detroit, and Oakland.