MSPB Essentially Defunct Due to Senate Inaction

After months of uncertainty, it appears the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will be essentially defunct, in the absence further action from Congress or the Trump administration. Vice Chairman Mark Robbins has been the only member of the three-person board for nearly two years, and his term is set to expire in just over three months, in March.

The MSPB had some prospects of resuming its work this week, with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voting for three nominees for the body put forward by the Trump Administration. However, the committee didn’t advance the nominees, as the “senators present were deadlocked on the nomination of Andrew Maunz,” according to Eric Katz Government Executive.

Maunz’s nomination is said to have “troubled Democrats and some board observers, in part because his office was once found by a federal court to be ‘dysfunctional and under the management of supervisors whose management skills and performance were deficient in many respects, including unfavorable treatment of older women working in the office…’

Even had the three nominees advanced, their workload would have been daunting, bordering on insurmountable. Robbins noted in a FEDtalk interview last month that when he took office, his backlog numbered under 100 cases and required 6 months of catch-up work. With the Senate’s ongoing inaction, the current backlog is now over 1,600 cases.

Katz notes that other portions of MSPB’s work are also apparently under the gun, as the agency’s four-year research agenda is set to expire at the end of the year, making it unclear whether the agency will be able to continue its research responsibilities going forward.”

Jim Eisenmann, MSPB’s former executive director, was frank in his assessment of what’s happening at the agency.

“It’s bad all around,” Eisenmann said.

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