Confirmation hearing tomorrow for MSPB nominees

The Senate’s Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee (part of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee) will hold a confirmation hearing for two members of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) on Tuesday, October 20, 2009, starting at 2:30 pm Eastern time. The hearing will be in Room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and broadcast on the internet. The subcommittee will hear testimony from the nominees, Susan Grundmann (to be Chairman) and Anne Wagner (to be Member).

Alert observers may look for the nominees’ responses to questions about the effectiveness of whistleblower remedies currently available through MSPB, how the nominees might use the power provided by 5 U.S.C. §1204(a)(3) to conduct studies on whether the protections are adequate, and how MSPB could apply 5 U.S.C. §1214(g) to provide remedies for federal employee whistleblowers. The nominees might also face questions about MSPB’s standards for orders staying a reprisal in Individual Right of Action (IRA) cases under 5 U.S.C. §1221(c).  The current MSPB regulation at 5 CFR §1209.10(b)(3) requires a showing of "substantial likelihood" whereas the standard under 5 CFR §1201.134(a) only requires a "reasonable grounds to believe" for requests made by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).  Finally, there might be some discussion of the pending Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), and how MSPB might respond to proposals made in various versions of that bill.

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