Connolly, Maloney Introduce the Merit Systems Protection Board Empowerment Act of 2020
Today, Rep. Gerry Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, introduced the Merit Systems Protection Board Empowerment Act of 2020. This legislation would reauthorize the Merit Systems Protect Board (MSPB) for five years beginning in 2021.
The MSPB is an independent entity within the federal government that protects Merit System Principles and works to promote a federal workforce that is free of retaliation, favoritism, and other arbitrary actions against federal employees. Since 2017, the three-member board has lacked a quorum and has been unable to hear cases. Additionally, the MSPB became vacant when its sole Board member, Mark Robbins’, term expired on March 1, 2019. As of June, it was estimated the current backlog for MSPB cases was 2,900.
“We have a crisis at the Merit Systems Protection Board. For more than a year we have had a vacant Board with little recourse for federal employees seeking adjudication of their cases,” said Connolly. “The MSPB protects whistleblowers from retaliation, veterans from job discrimination, and federal employees from prohibited personnel practices. Congress must ensure that it can immediately restart operations.”
“The Merit Systems Protection Board serves a critical role in preserving a non-partisan civil service. It has been weakened by years of neglect, if not outright hostility, by the Trump Administration,” said Maloney. “I am proud to join this measure to preserve and strengthen the MSPB.”
In addition to reauthorizing the MSPB, the MSPB Empowerment Act of 2020 would also expand the Board’s research and study authority, allowing it to conduct surveys of federal employees that can then be used to improve Merit System Principles. It would also require administrative judges and other qualifying employees to undergo whistleblower engagement training. Research from other nations has demonstrated that such trainings result in higher success rates for whistleblowers.
In February 2019, the House passed H.R. 1235, the MSPB Temporary Term Extension Act, legislation offered by Chairman Connolly and the late Chairman Elijah Cummings that would have prevented the MSPB from having no members by providing Mr. Robbins a one-time, one-year extension. The Senate failed to consider it.
The legislation offered by Connolly and Maloney is endorsed by Project on Government Oversight, Government Accountability Project, the Partnership for Public Service, the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, the National Federation of Federal Employees, and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
Text of the legislation is available here.