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Appeals to Merit Systems Protection Board increased in 2012

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) reports that last year they handled the largest number of appeals in almost a decade, as employees contested more personnel decisions. This included actions like negative performance appraisal and denials of step increases on pay rates.

And the threat of sequestration and across the board cuts in many agencies has the MSPB expecting even more of these types of appeals according to the annual yearend report issued on January 31.

The MSPB is an independent, quasi-judicial agency. It is responsible for hearing and issuing decisions regarding federal employee's complaints about personnel actions, when an employee alleges an agency has engaged in a "prohibited personnel practice."

Last year, the MSPB decided 155 performance action appeals, a 41 percent increase over fiscal 2011. The board also had a 27 percent increase for appeals of denials of within-grade step increases, the most in over a decade. The most frequent item heard by the board, adverse action appeals, only increased by 2 percent.

The report noted, "Historical trends indicate that increasing [reductions in force, or layoffs] would lead to potentially large increases in the number of appeals filed with MSPB."

With sequestration looming, the board is clearly concerned that these types of appeals will increase as more unhappy federal employees feel they are being subjected to unfair and prohibited personnel actions.

Employees whose pay has been stagnant and who work for agencies where hiring freezes have meant they are expected to take on ever more responsibilities, can make them much more sensitive to what they may see as violations of the merit system principles in their performance appraisals.

Source: Federal Times, "More employees contest negative performance appraisals, raise denials," Stephen Losey, February 7, 2013

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