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MSPB lacks a quorum to go forward on sexual harassment study

Sexual harassment remains a serious problem in the workplace in Texas and among federal workers. Recent scandals of high-profile members of Congress do not touch the depth of the problem, however, and the executive branch could be facing more scrutiny in the future than it has in the past. There is a government-wide study on the subject of sexual harassment but that has been held up.

The study cannot be completed and published because the President has not yet nominated someone to round out the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), a three-person board that lacks a quorum due to having only one sitting member. This also holds up the Board from issuing studies on other topics, including whistleblower reprisal policy. The MSPB is mandated to root out prohibited practices such as harassment and reprisals.

The MSPB is studying the sexual harassment problem in the executive branch of the federal government, and intends to issue a written evaluation that will stand as the first major overview of the subject since 1995. At that time, the report found that nearly half of the women and 20 percent of male employees of the federal government had been recipients of unwanted sexual advancements. The Board is currently paralyzed with only one member. The lack of authority is also damaging to the rights and security of existing and potential whistleblowers, who are responsible for significant revelations and the ultimate reformation of procedures in several different areas of governance.

Even though it is a three-member board, it can act and issue reports with a quorum of two members. Once the President nominates someone, that appointee would have to approved by the Senate. With the current heated controversy regarding the rights of women in the workplace, and to freedom from sexual harassment generally, the people of Texas and the rest of the country await the government's action.

Source: pogo.com, "Without a Nominee, a Federal Study on Sexual Harassment Is Bottled Up", Amelia Strauss, Dec. 19, 2017

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