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Update on key federal board: What’s going on with the MSPB?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2021 | Federal Employment Law

The rationale underpinning the purpose and clout of the federal Merit Systems Protection Board has been eminently clear from its inception more than 40 years ago.

We note the centrality of the MSPB in the federal work realm on our website at the proven national employment legal offices of The Devadoss Law Firm.

We stress therein the primary thrust of the agency. One of its key roles “is to hear appeals of federal government employees who have been demoted, suspended or terminated on the [alleged] basis of conduct or performance.”

In other words, the MSPB stands as the ultimate authority and arbiter regarding claims brought by federal workers alleging employer bad faith in various guises. One in-depth national article on the board stresses its role of ensuring that “mismanagement and abuses of power within federal agencies are being properly checked.”

That spells some seriously heady oversight and power, although it is actually the case that the MSPB has been functioning in a limited mode in recent years.

In fact, the board has basically been a nonentity since the advent of the Trump administration. Here’s a look at where things currently stand with the MSPB:

  • Sufficient lack of members needed for a quorum since January 2017
  • No action on the board taken whatsoever during the Trump presidency, leading to no MSPB membership at all since February 2019
  • Thousands of backlogged cases filed by wrongly demoted, fired and otherwise unlawfully treated workers
  • Board inability to adjudicate cases leading to public harm caused by nondisclosure of agency harms and required accountability for wrongdoing

The MSPB is an important government entity that must operate with full power and capacity to safeguard federal workers’ interests and take strong steps against official malfeasance. The above-cited article notes that President Biden and Congress now “need to act to ensure that the current legal protections function as designed.”

A federal worker having questions or concerns regarding a labor law matter can turn for guidance and informed representation to a nationally experienced employment law team.


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