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.
The effort to shore up the Department of Veterans Affairs and counter the view of President Trump that the agency is the most corrupt in government continues. The latest move happened last week when the House of Representatives passed yet another bill expanding protections for potential VA whistleblowers. The measure passed the Senate in May and garnered a rare show of unity in the House – passing the chamber 420-0.
Federal employment is a highly competitive arena. Certain certifications, such as security clearances, are highly coveted because they open doors to opportunity and advancement. At the same time, losing the classification can mean the end of a career.
It seems the first answer for almost any legal question is, "it depends." While that can be frustrating to someone seeking advice, it should come as no surprise. In one respect, the uncertainty is a plus. It reflects that every case is different and deserves judgment on its own merits. Any other approach would reduce the rule of law to little more than rubber stamp actions.
If you are a civil servant working for the federal government or employee of a company doing government contract work, you enjoy a high level of due process protection against arbitrary punitive action. However, there can be a potential downside in the safety net. The matrix of laws that cover various issues can create so many avenues of possible action that it can boggle the mind.
The language from the Office of Management and Budget about the future of the federal work force seems to be in keeping with that old song that goes, "Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative."
The personnel rules that apply to federal government workers and workers for federal contractors amount to what many might consider a bureaucracy within a bureaucracy. As we noted in a post back in September, it can be confusing to know what constitutes an adverse job action. And even when you are sure you've suffered an unfair or illegal practice, it can be difficult to know your legal options without consulting an attorney.