In July 2017, the Office of Special Counsel called on all federal agencies to disallow unpaid union official leave when its purpose was for an employee to engage in "partisan political activity." It claimed that allowing leave for that purpose violates the Hatch Act, which limits federal employees' participation in political campaign activities.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the Office of Special Counsel's backlog of whistleblower and prohibited personnel practices cases almost doubled between 2011 and 2016, even though the OSC has been actively working to reduce it. The GAO notes that the OSC increased the number of employees reviewing the cases and established a unit focusing on hybrid cases involving both a whistleblower disclosure and alleged retaliation. Nevertheless, the approximately 66-percent increase in cases filed since 2011 was enough to overcome those efforts and cause the backlog to increase.
The newly appointed head of the Office of Special Counsel values whistleblowers and has a lot of respect for what they do and the courage it takes to do it. He's excited about a new law called the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which increases protections for federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse by government agencies. For one thing, the new law allows him to hold people responsible when they retaliate against whistleblowers.