Agency Hopes to Move On Defense Furlough Appeals After Labor Day

Defense Department file photo

The Merit Systems Protection Board said on Thursday that it expects to start adjudicating furlough appeals from Defense Department employees shortly after Labor Day.

The small federal agency announced earlier this month that it would delay processing thousands of Defense appeals until it could get a better handle on them. As of Aug. 21, MSPB had received more than 30,000 furlough appeals related to sequestration; 98 percent of those are from Defense employees. The agency has docketed about half of those appeals to date, and expects to have most of them in the system after Sept. 2. Soon after all the appeals are docketed, MSPB will begin adjudicating them.

MSPB on its website said it regretted the inconvenience to filers, but also emphasized the importance of completing the docketing process before diving into the pool of Defense appeals. “It would be inefficient for the board to begin adjudicating certain furlough appeals, only to discover that furlough appeals raising similar arguments, filed by similarly situated employees, remain to be docketed,” the agency stated on its website. “In short, MSPB hopes to consolidate and adjudicate as many similar claims as possible, and this cannot be done until the docketing process is near completion.”

Agency officials have called the number of appeals filed during the last few months unprecedented and overwhelming. During fiscal 2012, the agency’s regional offices received about 6,000 total appeals, which include furlough- and non-furlough-related issues. MSPB has roughly 200 employees in eight regional offices nationwide.

Defense furloughed more than 650,000 civilian employees this fiscal year because of sequestration. The department originally told employees that they would have to take 22 days of unpaid leave through Sept. 30; that number is down to six days. The agency has continued to process as usual furlough appeals from employees of non-Defense agencies.

MSPB said the delay in processing Defense-related furlough appeals would allow the board to glean “a better understanding of the claims being raised, the work locations of the appellants, the MSPB offices in which the appeals have been filed, and whether or not the appellants are represented.” The board has encouraged employees to file appeals electronically if they can, and to check online periodically for updates.

Among its other responsibilities, MSPB adjudicates appeals of “adverse personnel actions” from federal employees who have been fired, suspended for more than 14 days, furloughed for 30 days or less, demoted or had their pay cut. Agencies must give furloughed employees 30 days’ advance notice; once on furlough, employees have 30 days to file an appeal with MSPB.

Board officials have worried since before the mandatory budget cuts took effect in March that the tiny, quasi-judicial agency could be flooded with appeals from furloughed employees governmentwide. The only other time something like this happened, according to officials, was in the 1980s when the agency had to process 12,000 personnel-related appeals during the air traffic controller strike. That took two years, and at the time, MSPB had about double the number of employees it has now.

The average appeal processing time in fiscal 2012 was 93 days for an initial decision from the agency. The losing party can then file a petition of review with the agency’s three-member board in Washington. It took an average of 245 days in fiscal 2012 to process those petitions, which are rare.

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

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

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

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download

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