MSPB Could Face ‘Unprecedented’ Wave of Furlough Appeals

AFGE’s National President J. David Cox AFGE’s National President J. David Cox AFGE

The Merit Systems Protection Board is bracing for the “unprecedented situation” of mass furlough appeals, according to an agency official.

MSPB -- a quasi-judicial, independent agency that adjudicates appeals of “adverse personnel actions” from federal employees -- is responsible for issuing rulings on furlough appeals. Bryan Polisuk, general counsel for MSPB, said the board does not know what to anticipate regarding the possibility of a wave of appeals.

“We’re taking a wait-and-see approach,” Polisuk told Government Executive. “We’re considering different things in an effort to handle the appeals, but we have to see if they come.”

MSPB had received 140 sequestration furlough appeals as of June 3, Polisuk said. The vast majority of those were from Federal Aviation Administration workers, some of whom were furloughed for one day before Congress allowed a reprogramming of funds that made the unpaid leave unnecessary.

The board -- which has 204 employees in Washington, D.C. and across eight regional offices -- could face a wave of appeals in the coming weeks, with the nation’s largest federal employee union imploring all its furloughed members -- especially those at the Defense Department, which plans to force 650,000 civilians to take 11 days of unpaid leave -- to challenge the decisions with MSPB.

“We are encouraging all our members to appeal the furlough notice and we are doing everything we can to assist them in that process,” American Federation of Government Employees spokesman Tim Kauffman said.

AFGE’s National President J. David Cox said the Pentagon is “violating the law” by maintaining a departmentwide civilian furlough policy even though some Defense agencies have said they do not require furloughs.

“It may go all the way through the process and we may lose,” Cox recently said on the radio program Inside Government. “There’s one thing about a labor union: we fight every battle. We fight every round.”

MSPB currently handles around 6,000 appeals annually. If even 1 percent of furloughed Defense employees follow through with an appeal, it alone would trump that total.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Polisuk said. “There’s really no roadmap. We will handle that accordingly.”

He added there is no specific timetable to review each case, and the timing would depend on what is alleged. “We’re going to try to do this in the most efficient way possible,” Polisuk said.

MSPB has already received 30 appeals from Defense employees, though they were rejected as premature; an employee may only issue an appeal after the furlough has gone into effect. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.