John Palguta spent 34 years in the federal government, before retiring as a member of the Senior Executive Service and director of policy at the Merit Systems Protection Board. For the last 16 years, he as been vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service. He talked to Federal Drive with Tom Temin about his last day on the job.
Senior leaders at the Veterans Affairs Department say the bill that was supposed to help them hold agency senior executives more accountable isn’t working. Agency leaders are considering changes to the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act).
Monica Molnar, a senior associate with the Federal Practice Group, argues that Congress is focusing on the wrong solution when it comes to fixing the administrative leave process.
Susan Tsui Grundmann, chairwoman of the Merit Systems Protection Board, talks to Federal Drive with Tom Temin about how new legislation requiring greater accountability from Veterans Affairs managers affects the MSPB.
Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens, who were reinstated to their positions as directors of the St. Paul and Philadelphia regional veterans benefits offices, could face another form of punishment, following the results of a second investigation from VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. The results of the investigation, which took longer than Gibson expected, should come in another week.
When Congress voted to restrict appeal rights of Veterans Affairs Department managers, it never counted on what might happen. Namely, that the Merit Systems Protection Board would follow the law to the letter. That’s why a series of reversals have hit VA’s senior leadership when it tried to fire people for performance. Lynn Bernabei, a partner at the law firm Bernabei and Cabot, which specializes in employee grievance cases, says VA has become a battleground between MSPB and Congress. She joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin with more details.
One prominent attorney believes MSPB is signaling to Congress it doesn’t like the curtailment of employee civil rights.
Some members of Congress are taking aim at the Merit Systems Protection Board, after it released its third decision in nearly a month to reverse punishments for senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department. MSPB is standing by its decisions, arguing that it must comply with the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.
VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson are working with Congress on a proposal that would strip senior agency executives of their rights to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board when they face disciplinary action. But the proposal faces growing criticism from the Senior Executives Association and others.
Two years ago, a federal appeals court ruled against a financial analyst and a military commissary employee who said they’d been summarily removed from their positions without being able to contest their agencies’ decisions before the Merit Systems Protection Board. At issue is a category of federal jobs called “noncritical sensitive.” Even though those workers don’t handle classified information, the government contends that airing their cases before MSPB could expose “sensitive” information — and the label now applies to about 200,000 Defense Department workers, according to two members of Congress who say they need more due process rights. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill this week to make clear that MSPB is allowed to hear those employees’ claims. Holmes Norton talked with Federal Drive with Tom Temin by phone about why the appeals court’s ruling needs to be overturned.