Dear Chairman Peters, Ranking Member Paul, and Members of the Committee:
On behalf of the Professional Managers Association – the non-profit professional association that has, since 1981, represented professional managers, management officials, and non-bargaining unit employees at the Internal Revenue Service(IRS) – I write regarding the imminent importance of restoring the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to full capacity.
The MSPB is the guardian of the apolitical administration of the law. The MSPB is the primary adjudicative body for adverse personnel actions for IRS managers and non-collective bargaining unit employees as well as whistleblower reprisal claims. As IRS whistleblowers continue to make national news, it is critical that a fully staffed MSPB hear potential accusations of reprisal and adjudicate the claims fairly a fully.
One of the Board’s key strengths is its statutorily bipartisan makeup. By law, the MSPB must have no more than two members of the same political party. Currently, the Board has two democratic members and no republican members. We firmly believe that the Board works and achieves the fairest results best when each case receives a politically balanced review. Thus, the Senate should swiftly consider the president’s republican nominee, who currently leads the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) with distinction, to ensure this balance is returned to the board.
Further, it must be emphasized that the MSPB is a body designed–not for federal employees–but for taxpayers. Its decisions ensure that employees are held accountable for misconduct and supervisors can manage their workforce. In 2022, 94percent of Department of Treasury cases were affirmed in favor of the agency. That means in all but one case the Board determined the agency correctly reprimanded an ineffective or disruptive employee and sustained the supervisor’s determination. In each of the last three years, the Board has affirmed more than 80 percent of agency actions.
Yet in the absence of a Board decision, employees and the agency alike are left in a state of limbo, unsure if an employee will be reinstated (with backpay) or have the personnel action sustained. While the risk of delayed justice is mitigated when the Board has a quorum, only full capacity truly eliminates this anticipation, particularly considering that MSPB Member Ray Limon’s term expires in a year and a half. If the Board’s two current members are in a deadlock, there is currently no third vote to break the tie and provide finality to the agency and employee.
The MSPB has worked hard to reduce the more than 3,600-case backlog that accumulated over the five years it lacked a quorum. Congress should not turnback the clock on the progress made. If it does, taxpayers and the services they rely on will suffer. Thus, we urge the committee and the Senate to swiftly consider both the president’s nominee for the Board’s vacant republican seat and the nomination of current Board Member Cathy Harris to serve as Chair of the MSPB. These actions will provide confidence to both the American people and federal agencies that the integrity of the merit system is strong.
Thank you for your consideration of PMA’s perspective. Please contact PMA Washington Representative Natalia Castro (firstname.lastname@example.org) if we can be of further assistance.
Professional Managers Association