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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
10/4/1988--Passed House amended. (Measure passed House, amended, roll call #397 (418-0)) Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988 - Separates the Office of Special Counsel from the Merit Systems Protection Board. Empowers the Special Counsel to represent and act as legal counsel on behalf of employees alleging prohibited personnel practices, especially whistleblowers. Revises current law with respect to the Special Counsel to reflect its advocate status. Authorizes the Board to grant protective orders to protect a witness or other individual from harassment either during a proceeding before the Board or during a Special Counsel investigation. Requires the Board, when it considers alternative places for conducting hearings or proceedings, to select the place closest to the location of the individual involved, unless the total administrative costs to the Government in conducting such hearings or proceedings would be lesser elsewhere. Authorizes the Special Counsel to file a petition to the Board against an official for: (1) engaging in prohibited personnel practices; (2) violating a law within the jurisdiction of the Special Counsel; or (3) failing to comply with an order of the Board. Sets forth procedures for disciplining such officials. Prohibits the Special Counsel from intervening in cases without the employee's consent, except: (1) where the employee is charged with a prohibited personnel practice; or (2) where the Special Counsel allows an agency to take disciplinary action against an employee under Special Counsel investigation. Prohibits the Special Counsel from providing information concerning any person making an allegation of a prohibited personnel practice, except in accordance with applicable law, without the consent of such person. Prescribes procedures for the Special Counsel when disclosures are made by persons other than an employee, former employee, applicant for employment, or employee who obtained information in connection with official duties. Requires the Special Counsel to report annually to the Congress on its activities. Establishes requirements for the Special Counsel to make public certain information, including noncriminal matters. Authorizes employees who have been adversely affected by a prohibited personnel practice to bring an action before the Board (instead of or in addition to taking such action to the Special Counsel). Prohibits reprisals against an employee for disclosing information to the Inspector General of an agency or to the Special Counsel, or for failing to follow orders to disobey a law. Authorizes Federal agencies to give preference in granting transfers to whistleblowers. Provides interim relief for certain appellants to the Board. Authorizes appropriations for the Merit Systems Protection Board for FY 1989 through 1993 and for the Office of Special Counsel for FY 1989 through 1991. Provides that the relevant agency shall be named respondent in employee appeals of Board decisions where the appeal involves the underlying personnel action or a request for attorney fees.