Government Operations Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Vacancies at the Merit Systems Protection Board

Feb 27, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 27, 2019)—On Thursday, February 28, 2019, the Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing on “Effects of Vacancies at the Merit Systems Protection Board.”

 

WHERE:   2154 Rayburn House Office Building

WHEN:     Thursday, February 28, 2019

TIME:       10:00 AM

 

PURPOSE

 

The purpose of the hearing is to examine the effects on the mission of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) caused by vacancies since January 2017, the independence of MSPB since its sole member was appointed by President Trump to serve concurrently as General Counsel of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the continuing operations of MSPB if it is left with no Members at the expiration of the remaining member's extended term of office, in March 2019.

 

BACKGROUND

 

MSPB was created by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 as an independent agency to adjudicate individual federal employee appeals in cases alleging violations of federal civil service laws.  Whistleblowers often appear before MSPB to appeal reprisal actions taken against them.  MSPB also ensures compliance of the Executive Branch with merit systems principles through studies and reviews of major rules issued by the Office of Personnel Management.  MSPB is led by a three-member Board, whose members are appointed by the President to seven-year terms.

 

Since January 7, 2017, MSPB has operated without a quorum, the longest absence of a quorum in the history of MSPB.  The sole Board member is Mark Robbins, a Republican who was confirmed by the Senate in 2012.  Robbins’ seven-year term expired on March 1, 2018, but he continues to serve in a holdover capacity which is currently limited by statute to one year.   

 

In 2018, President Trump nominated three candidates for MSPB—two Republicans and one Democrat—but they were not confirmed by the Senate before the end of the last Congress. 

 

In January 2019, President Trump renominated the three candidates, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recently cleared two of them.  The third withdrew his name from consideration.  However, these two nominations will not be considered until the White House names another Republican nominee. 

 

On Monday, February 25, 2019, the House passed, as amended, H.R. 1235, the MSPB Temporary Term Extension Act, to provide a one-time, one-year extension of the current member’s term.  The bill passed by voice vote and moved to the Senate where its consideration remains uncertain.

 

 

WITNESSES

 

The Honorable Mark A. Robbins

Acting Chairman

Merit Systems Protection Board

 

Thomas M. Devine

Legal Director

Government Accountability Project

 

John M. Palguta

Former Director of Policy and Evaluation

Merit Systems Protection Board

 

Valerie Brannon

Legislative Attorney

American Law Division

Congressional Research Service

 

John York

Policy Analyst

Heritage Foundation

 

The hearing is open to the public and a live video stream will be broadcast here

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116th Congress