MSPB to hear first oral argument in 27 years

Tomorrow, September 21st, the Merit System Protection Board  (MSPB) will hear oral arguments in two cases Rhonda K. Conyers v. Department of Defense and Devon H. Northover v. Department of Defense for the first time in 27 years.

According to the Make It Safe Coalition, the cases, decided under a previous Board, “created an open-ended loophole permitting agencies to cancel MSPB review of any federal job by designating it ‘sensitive’ – a non-reviewable, vague national security category that can be attached to any case that ‘could enable its occupant to bring about a material adverse effect on national security’. Such employees would be limited to internal review, where agencies act as the judges of their own alleged misconduct.”

Newly-confirmed MSPB members vacated the decisions in January and requested an advisory opinion from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) briefsYou can read these documents on their website by clicking here.

It is certainly encouraging that the new MSPB Chairman, Susan Tsui Grundmann, decided to hear oral arguments in cases like these that “present issues of special significance because of their broad potential impact on the Federal civil service and merit systems.” Let us hope that it truly does “result in the best decisions for Federal employees and agencies, and the American people.”

The public is welcome to attend the hearing at 10:00 am at the Unites States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Room 201, 717 Madison Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. For those who cannot attend, recordings of the oral arguments will be made available on the MSPB website.


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