Articles by Susan McGuire Smith | Older Articles »

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Practice Makes Perfect

This is yet another case where a retired employee’s failure to designate his wife-in this case his fifth-to receive a survivor’s annuity means she gets nothing.

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Win the War But Not the Battle

A Customs employee took his removal to arbitration and got it mitigated to a reprimand. The arbitrator refused, however, to grant attorney fees and the appeals court has now upheld that refusal.

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Two Wives, One Husband: Who Gets the Survivor’s Annuity?

One can almost detect the appeals court’s exasperation with the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Personnel Management as it sorts out this tangled mess involving one deceased Forest Service employee, two surviving spouses, lengthy state court litigation, and an effort by OPM to make one of the women reimburse annuity payments she received erroneously-even though she had already paid them over to the other spouse.

About Susan McGuire Smith

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Ms. Smith spent most of her 26-year federal government career with NASA, first at NASA Headquarters Office of General Counsel and then at Marshall Space Flight Center, serving as Chief Counsel there for more than 14 years. Her expertise is in government contracts, ethics, and personnel law.

She also spent one year as Assistant Counsel to the Select Committee on Ethics in the United States Senate where she was responsible for drafting the Senate's ground breaking Code of Ethical Conduct. At NASA, Ms. Smith was Deputy Associate General Counsel for General Law. She was appointed Chief Counsel at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1982, the first woman to hold a chief counsel position in the agency and to hold a Senior Executive Service position at Marshall. Another first was her appointment in 1996 as Associate Director of Marshall Space Flight Center.

Ms. Smith has a J.D and a B.A. degree from the George Washington University. Her publications include Practical Ethics for the Federal Employee.

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