The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a good reputation for managing retirement programs and insurance for federal employees. However, it is not known for its efficiency.
Is it ethical for an employer to encourage managers to sign off on certifications or forms without information to verify the form’s accuracy? It seems like a question with a clear answer. Unfortunately, like most matters involving federal employment, the answer is anything but simple.
The Merit Systems Protection Board was established in 1978 to protect federal employees from unfair treatment at work and to promote the Merit System Principles. The MSPB comes into play when federal employees have blown the whistle on fraud or mismanagement, or when civil servants have complained of bias, arbitrariness, retaliation or other wrongful treatment in the workplace and need to appeal. It also provides independent research and analysis on the merit systems for the executive branch.
A Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's investigation found that the head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration took advantage of government-issued vehicles by using them to travel to his home in North Carolina and for other non-official purposes. According to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, administrator William "Brock" Long will reimburse the government for the cost of the misuse but he will not lose his job.
Leadership from three components of the Department of Homeland Security -- the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- do not consistently monitor their internal controls in employee misconduct cases, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.
A Social Security Administration (SSA) claims representative who also acts as a grievance vice president for his local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has been placed on administrative leave after a protest. Using washable window paint, the man wrote several messages on the windows of a Troy, New York, SSA office building in protest of President Trump's recent executive orders targeting unions.
For years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been accused of routinely retaliating against whistleblowers. The problems prompted President Trump to issue an executive order last year creating the VA's Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection last year. Since June, the office has received over 1,000 operational complaints, according to a spokesperson.
A Veterans Affairs employee recently appealed his indefinite suspension beyond the Merit Systems Protection Board to the federal courts. Unfortunately for this employee, his appeal was unsuccessful, but federal employees should know that there appeals both within and beyond the MSPB.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte has released its 2017 annual ranking of the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government." The rankings are based largely on the findings of the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey performed by the Office of Personnel Management.
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.