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Oversight Committee Advances Merit System Protections Board Empowerment Act

Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform advanced the Merit System Protections (MSPB) Board Empowerment Act, legislation authored by Government Operations Chairman Gerry Connolly to reauthorize the MSPB through 2026.

“Our committee took an important step today in protecting federal employees and whistleblowers,” Chairman Connolly said. “We need a functioning MSPB, and our bill will provide certainty that the Board is authorized through 2026. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. The Senate must confirm new Board members expeditiously so that we can reduce the unacceptable backlog of more than 3,000 claims pending.”

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent agency whose mission is to “Protect the Merit System Principles and promote an effective federal workforce free of Prohibited Personnel Practices.”  The agency guards federal employees and veterans against job discrimination and wrongful termination, and it defends patriotic federal employees who seek to blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption in the federal government.  Unfortunately, the Board has been entirely vacant for two years, lacking a quorum to conduct its adjudicatory responsibilities—resulting in a backlog of more than 3,000 prohibited personnel practice claims. 

The Merit System Protections Board Empowerment Act would:

  • Reauthorizing the MSPB through 2026;
  • Allow the MSPB to conduct employee surveys to help ensure that agencies are following merit system principles for the competitive civil service and potentially identify where improvements are necessary;
  • And enable the MSPB to collect information on applicants for federal employment, when not prohibited by existing law, and require successful completion of whistleblower training for MSPB members, administrative judges, and other applicable employees.

The Merit System Protections Board Empowerment Act is endorsed by the National Federation of Federal Employees, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Project on Government Oversight, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Partnership for Public Service, Government Accountability Project, National Whistleblower Center, and  the National Taxpayers Union.

Connolly has been a champion of the MSPB. In the 116th Congress, he worked with former Chairman Elijah Cummings to introduce H.R. 1235, the MSPB Temporary Term Extension Act, legislation that would have temporarily extended the term of the last remaining Board member in an attempt to avoid an entirely vacant Board like we have now. Connolly and Cummings also collaborated on H.R.2530 - Interim Stay Authority To Protect Whistleblowers Act, legislation to empower the MSPB General Counsel to act on urgent cases of abuse against federal employees.  

Text of the Merit System Protections Board Empowerment Act is available here
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