Attorney Debra D'Agostino elaborated on her take on the latest development
in the recent Veterans' Affairs corruption controversy in a new blog
at Government Executive. In "Congress is Just Wrong About the MSPB,"
Attorney D'Agostino says that Congress's response to the Merit
Systems Protection Board overturning of VA disciplinary decisions "could
not be more wrong about where the system is broken and what needs to be
done to fix it."
The case she is referring to involves a 10 month-long VA investigation
into its own employees who were found to be using their position to manipulate
the relocation program incentives in their own favor. While there is little
debate that the managers in question acted inappropriately, the VA's
discipline (to demote the managers from SES to a GS-15) was found to be
inconsistent by the MSPB. Why? Because other, unpunished managers at the
VA had acted in a similar fashion.
House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller called the latest
MSPB rulings on this matter "yet another MSPB ruling that defies
common sense." He added: "It is encouraging that VA Deputy Secretary
Sloan Gibson is finally starting to realize what nearly every objective
observer concluded long ago: the MSPB coddles and protects misbehaving
employees rather than facilitating fair and efficient discipline."
According to Attorney D'Agostino, however, this view of the MSPB is
not supported by the facts. In the last 12 months, the three judges on
the MSPB have ruled in favor of the employees in question a mere five
times. In the board's annual 2015 report, the MSPB revealed that of
the approximately 25,000 cases it decided that year, nearly a third of
them filed by employees were dismissed. The ones that weren't dismissed?
The MSPB ruled in the employees favor just 1% of the time. As Attorney
D'Agostino writes, "These are tough odds by any standard, and
if this is 'coddling' employees who commit misconduct, I must
misunderstand the word."
You can read all of "Congress is Just Wrong About the MSPB" at the
Government Executive site.