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.
The second of two Department of Veterans Affairs senior executives had her demotion reversed by a Merit Systems Protection Board judge. Diana Rubens was demoted from her executive position by the VA for allegedly abusing her power for her own personal gain. Fellow SESer Kimberly Graves received a similar decision from a judge last week.
A Merit Systems Protection Board judge reversed the decision by the VA to demote one of its senior executives for alleged misconduct involving a relocation program. Reports also say another VA official demoted for the same reason is currently defending herself in a Philadelphia court.
Joe Carson, a 31-year federal employee and a prevailing whistleblower, explains why he believes the U.S. Office of Special Counsel withdrew its rule about contractor whistleblower disclosures.
Agencies don’t have a common way to train and develop their Senior Executive Service members. The Merit Systems Protection Board spoke with 23 agencies about their training programs for SES. Half of them couldn’t say how often their SES members get training opportunities. Tanya Page is a senior research psychologist and the project manager for MSPB’s new report. She shared what prompted the agency to start this research now with Federal News Radio’s Nicole Ogrysko, who stopped by to share those findings on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
A new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board finds a gap between the training agencies say they’ll give their senior executives, and the opportunities SES members actually receive.
The Office of Special Counsel, Merit Systems Protection Board and Office of Government Ethics haven’t received authorization from Congress since 2007. But Congress says it wants to consider additional legislation and statutory changes before it issues new reauthorizations.
MSPB Chair Susan Tsui Grundmann took aim at a recent law and the legislation it’s spawned. The year-old Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 curtails the due process rights of Senior Executive Service members in the Veterans Affairs Department. Just recently, the House passed legislation to extend the measure to the rest of the VA’s workforce.