President Nominates Patrick Pizzella to be FLRA Member

The Obama White House announced the nomination of Patrick Pizzella as an FLRA Member. The author asks if this will smooth the way for the confirmation of Carol Waller Pope whose nomination has been in limbo for almost a year.

In an August 1, 2013 Press release, Patrick Pizzella, a former Bush administration official was nominated to serve as a minority member of the Federal Labor Relations authority.

Pizzella’s biography is listed in the press release as follows:

“Patrick Pizzella is Principal at Patrick Pizzella, LLC, a position he has held since 2009.  Mr. Pizzella served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2001 to 2009.  Previously, he worked at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP as a Government Affairs Counselor from 1998 to 2001 and Director of Coalitions from 1996 to 1997.  From 1990 to 1995, Mr. Pizzella was Director of the Office of Administration at the Federal Housing Finance Board and from 1988 to 1989, Deputy Under Secretary for Management at the U.S. Department of Education.  He has previously held positions at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. General Services Administration.  Mr. Pizzella received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina.”

LinkedIn has a much more complete bio. Pizzella has extensive government experience with the Departments of Education and Labor, GSA, SBA, OPIC and the Federal Housing Finance Board.  He also served as Chief of Staff with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for a short period.  All of his positions appear to have been schedule C or appointed management positions during Republican administrations.  His longest appointment was eight years as Asst. Secty. For Management CIO, Chief Human Capital Officer at Labor.

To get a feel for his views on labor relations, you can read an article he wrote for Government Executive in 2008.  You can also catch an interview on the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Since Mr. Pizzella’s is a political appointment, one can surely ask if there’s any politics involved.  The former FLRA Chair, Carol Waller Pope, was renominated last December but her appointment has not been acted on.  Is this a deal to get the FLRA back in business?  FLRA’s only current member, Ernest Dubester, has been hanging around with little to do as no cases could be decided in the absence of a quorum.  He did give a pro-union pep talk at the Society of Federal Labor and Employee Professionals Conference this past April.  It was OK, though, because of sequester, virtually every one present and most speakers were either “neutrals” or union folks.  Of course, if you look at Mr. Dubester’s opinions (admittedly few) in cases, he hasn’t heard a union proposal he didn’t think negotiable.  Perhaps Mr. Pizzella will provide a voice of sanity as did his predecessor Thomas Beck.  Mr. Pizzella’s extensive management experience is pretty much a first for FLRA whose appointees have been generally either inexperienced in management or aggressively pro-union.

As always, anything above you perceive as an opinion is my responsibility alone.  FYI, the company I worked with for the last 9 years, GRA Inc., is now owned by RGS Inc.  In contrast to GRA leadership (mostly retired Feds like me), these folks are much younger and more savvy business people.  I advised them they should consider generational management training to deal with those of us who qualify for the “dinosaur discount” at supermarkets and cinemas.

About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.