MSPB down to one member, while President Obama taps inspectors general for major agencies

With the the chairman of the Merit Systems Protection Board resigning in less than a week, employees appealing their disciplinary actions will have to be patien...

The Merit Systems Protection Board will be down to one member as of next week, and while petitions are still being accepted, the board won’t be taking any action for the foreseeable future until President-elect Donald Trump nominates someone.

Susan Tsui Grundmann, announced her resignation effective Jan. 7, as chairman of the board. Her term expired last March, but she was serving in a holdover capacity, her resignation stated.

The vice chairman position has been empty since March 2015. The lone member is Mark Robbins, who assumed his role in 2012, and is now serving in an administrative and executive role.

“Importantly, because there is an existing vacancy on the board, Chairman Grundmann’s departure will result in the loss of a board quorum,” the announcement stated. “Among other things, the board will not be able to act on any petition for review filed until a quorum is restored by the nomination and confirmation of at least one new member.  Similarly, without a quorum, the board cannot issue study reports on the civil service pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 1204(a)(3).”

Parties can still file petitions for review and the board’s administrative judges will continue to hear appeals and make decisions, the announcement said.

“If neither party files a petition for review of an initial decision, an appellant who receives an initial decision may exercise his or her right to appeal directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, another U.S. court of appeals, or a U.S. district court, as appropriate,” MSPB said in the announcement. “As always, initial decisions will list the various administrative and court appeal options.”

Federal News Radio explored this one-member scenario in December, including the future of the board itself.

The agency can still perform many of its functions with a one-member board. But there are some cases — when a federal employee appeals an MSPB judge’s decision for example — where the board must weigh in.

The president nominates board members and the Senate confirms the choices.

Presidential nominations

As MSPB waits its turn on the line of some 4,000 political appointees to be named by Trump, President Barack Obama sent a list of nominations to the Senate for various inspectors general positions and board memberships.

The list includes a five-year reappointment of Carolyn Lerner as special counsel for the Office of Special Counsel; Elizabeth Field as IG for the Office of Personnel Management; Glenn Fine for IG of the Defense Department; Robert Storch as IG for the National Security Agency; and Michael Leary as Social Security Administration Inspector General.

The other nominations include:

  • Jessica Rosenworcel, member of the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Tulinabo Salama Mushingi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the U.S. to the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
  • Brent Nelsen, member of the Board of Director of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • Rebecca Rapp, member of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation.
  • David Arroyo, member of the Board of Director of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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