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Merit Systems Protection Board appeals backlogged by two years

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has lacked a quorum since January 2017. This means federal employees who wish to challenge the administrative judge’s ruling on their case are left in limbo. The review cannot move forward until there is a quorum.

What is the problem? Since there are not enough members of the MSPB to make a quorum, requested reviews are on hold. This could translate to a long wait for employees seeking resolution. One recent estimate puts the current backlog at over two years.

What is a frustrated federal employee to do? There are other options for resolution. One example: If the initial ruling from the administrative judge was unfavorable, the employee could appeal the lower level decision directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The basic pros and cons of this course of action include:

  • Pros. Potential for a timelier resolution.
  • Cons. More complex legal process with potential for additional expenses.

Considering appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? Not every case qualifies. In most instances, those involving a legal question may seek resolution with the court of appeals. This includes an alleged statutory or regulatory violation, but does not include disagreements about the facts of the case.

What if I already have a request pending review with the MSPB? The board does not expect to have a quorum in the near future. In the meantime, those with a pending review can either wait or consider removing their request and appealing to the court of appeals. Due to the backlog, the MSPB has relaxed its requirements for removing a pending request for review by the board.

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