A small investigative federal agency aimed at promoting accountability and integrity in the government is following in the footstep of its bigger counterparts in letting in some more sunshine on its own operations.
Released Nov. 13, the Office of Special Counsel’s open government plan touts several initiatives to increase transparency – from digital tweaks to broader changes.
One effort that zeros in on digital enhancements involves the office’s website, which the agency upgraded in July 2014. In fiscal 2015, OSC plans to make the site even more functional, by launching a new e-filing system for complainants and improving how content is organized and accessed.
The agency also plans to look at tools offered by the General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government to further revamp its website and enhance OSC’s digital outreach and overall social media presence.
When it comes to the back-end, OSC’s new enterprise content management system aims to better structure information and improve the capture and processing of new data. The new system will also help OSC identify data sets that can be unlocked and released publicly.
Digital revamp aside, OSC’s transparency focus revolves around its core mission to protect federal employees from prohibited personnel practices and retaliation for whistle-blowing. The office has begun to publish certain redacted versions of reports on prohibited personnel practice to educate the federal workforce, a first for the agency, OSC spokesman Nick Schwellenbach told Nextgov.
The first redacted report was released Oct. 23.
What’s highlighted as the agency's “flagship” effort is the 2302(C) Certification Program, which Schwellenbach said requires agencies to train managers about whistleblower rights and prohibited personnel practices. The program also informs new employees about the whistleblower protection laws.
Currently, the departments of Energy and Health and Human Services and NASA have taken strides to begin the certification progress, according to the OSC plan. So far, 20 agencies have completed the certification program, but many others are in the process of doing so.