Merit Systems Protection Board

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) ensures that federal civil servants are hired and retained based on merit. In overseeing the personnel practices of the federal government, the board conducts special studies of the merit systems; hears and decides charges of wrongdoing and employment appeals of adverse agency actions; and orders corrective disciplinary actions against an executive agency or employee when appropriate. The board's independent special counsel investigates, among other things, prohibited personnel practices and allegations of activities proscribed by civil service laws,

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rules, and regulations, and prosecutes officials who violate civil service rules and regulations.

The MSPB is a successor agency to the U.S. Civil Service Commission, which had been established by act of Congress on January 16, 1883. The duties and authority of the board are specified in 5 U.S.C.A. §§ 1201?1206 (1978).

The board has responsibility for hearing and adjudicating appeals by federal employees of adverse personnel actions, such as removals, suspensions, and demotions. It also resolves cases involving re-employment rights, the denial of periodic step increases in pay, actions against ADMINISTRATIVE LAW judges, charges of merit-system violations, and prohibited personnel practices, including charges in connection with WHISTLE-BLOWING (i.e., the reporting of illegal acts). When President BILL CLINTON reauthorized the MSPB and the Office of Special Counsel in 1994, he directed that federal employee whistle-blowers and other victims of prohibited personnel practices receive additional protections. Clinton instructed the agencies to follow appropriate procedures to protect the constitutional rights of such federal employees.

The board has the authority to enforce its decisions and to order corrective and disciplinary actions. An employee or applicant for employment who is involved in an appealable action that also involves an allegation of discrimination may ask the EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION to review a board decision. Final decisions and orders of the board are appealable to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The board reviews regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and has the authority to require agencies to cease compliance with any regulation that could constitute a prohibited personnel practice. It also conducts special studies...

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