According to a new study of Merit Systems Protection Board data by federal employment law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC, the MSPB’s track record for disposing of federal employees’ initial appeals and petitions for review (PFR) has not changed drastically when it was operating during fiscal years with budgets passed by Republican or Democratic administrations.
Between the 1990 and 2011 fiscal years, the MSPB’s average annual volume of initial appeals decided was 6,924. There is little variation in the MSPB’s track record for the disposition of initial appeals while under Republican or Democratic administrations.
For fiscal years when Republican administrations passed the budget, administrative judges were marginally less likely to dismiss initial appeals, but they were marginally more likely to affirm agency determinations. For fiscal years when Democratic administrations passed the budget, administrative judges were marginally more likely to reverse agency determinations (see chart below).
The MSPB’s track record for disposing of PFRs similarly did not diverge greatly while under Democratic and Republican administrations. During fiscal years with budgets passed by Republican administrations, Board members were more likely to deny PFRs and reverse administrative judges’ decisions on initial appeals. During fiscal years with budgets passed by Democratic administrations, Board members were marginally more likely to remand initial appeals to administrative judges (see chart below).
“The MSPB is supposed to protect federal employees from partisan political practices, and to do so it should not be swaying to whichever way the political winds are blowing over the White House. It is good to see administrative judges have a fairly consistent track record through Republican and Democratic administrations,” said Tully Rinckey PLLC Partner John P. Mahoney, who chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Practice Group and specializes in federal employment law.