MSPB struggles to cope with furlough appeals

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2014 | Employee Disputes

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has released its strategic plan for the next few fiscal years and it outlines some of the challenges facing the agency. Perhaps the largest and most critical has been dealing with the fallout from budget sequestration and furloughs of last year.

The crush of work from that event has overwhelmed the capacity of the MSPB. In a typical year, they process about 6,000 appeals involving adverse job actions, the merit systems and prohibited personnel practices. Over the last year, the MSPB received approximately 38,000 appeal requests, of which 32,000 are attributed to furloughs.

In the early 1980s, after the air traffic controllers’ mass firing, the agency had to process more than 11,000 appeals, and it took the MSPB two years to process that backlog. And at that time, the MSPB had twice as many employees as it currently employs.

The agency suggests improvements in technology would allow it to better handle such vast numbers of appeals, but they cannot afford significant improvements to their information technology as system maintenance consumes that budget.

Of course, the ultimate price for the MSPB’s inability to process their appeals in a timely manner is borne by the employees stuck in limbo, waiting for their appeals to be heard and a decision rendered.

For federal employees dealing with any employment situation that warrants a MSPB hearing, the importance of working with a lawyer and having a well-prepared case, which is compelling and laid out in a straightforward manner that permits rapid determination, is clear.

Source:, “MSPB to make changes after flood of furlough appeals,” Ryan McDermott, March 13, 2014