Office of Special Counsel | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Courts

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigates and prosecutes violations of federal personnel practices in the United States.

The Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency, plays an important role in the U.S. government. It ensures that federal employees are treated fairly, without discrimination, and are protected from any harmful workplace practices.

Role and Responsibilities

The OSC has a broad range of duties. One of its main roles is to investigate and prosecute prohibited personnel practices. These can include issues like retaliation against whistleblowers, who are individuals that disclose wrongdoing in the government. Additionally, the OSC ensures that federal employees are not discriminated against based on factors like race, religion, or gender.

Whistleblower Protection

One of the OSC’s key roles is to protect whistleblowers. If a federal employee sees wrongdoing and reports it, they’re considered a whistleblower. The OSC ensures that these brave individuals are protected from unfair treatment or punishment for their actions. After all, whistleblowers play a critical role in maintaining an ethical and accountable government.

Office of Special Counsel and Criminal Justice

While the OSC doesn’t directly deal with criminal justice, its role intersects with this field. For instance, the OSC might become involved if a federal law enforcement officer is unfairly treated or if a whistleblower uncovers criminal activity in a federal agency. In such cases, the OSC can help ensure that justice is served.


All things considered, the Office of Special Counsel is a vital part of the U.S. government. By ensuring fair treatment of federal employees and protecting whistleblowers, the OSC contributes to the integrity and accountability of our government. Whether it’s protecting workers from discrimination or safeguarding the rights of whistleblowers, the OSC plays a significant role in fostering fairness and justice in the federal workplace.

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Last Modified: 07/02/2023

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