Federal Employees Having No Luck So Far With Furlough Appeals

The latest MSPB annual report contains figures on the status of appeals from last year’s furloughs filed by the federal workforce.

The Merit Systems Protection Board’s annual report for 2013 was released on May 30 and contains some new information about how federal employees are faring in their appeals of last year’s furloughs. Perhaps of most significance: the MSPB revealed in its statistics that so far, 100% of the decisions have affirmed the agency decisions to furlough employees.

The MSPB received a massive influx of cases due to the furloughs last year that came about from budget sequestration. The Department of Defense had some of the largest numbers of furloughs, implementing them for most of its 650,000 employees.

The MSPB notes in its report that federal employees have a right to appeal furloughs under law, and appeal they did. In FY 2013, almost 32,400 furloughed employees filed appeals in MSPB’s regional and field offices, approximately five times the 6,200 initial appeals MSPB receives on average each year (2007-2012, not counting addendum appeals). Also, nearly 32,000 DoD employees filed furlough appeals over a 5-6 week period in July and August 2013.

The MSPB said in its report that this surge in appeals has and will continue to have a major impact on its various offices. Agency employees and temporary employees hired to help with the barrage of appeals have been working overtime to work through the backlog.

Here are some other key stats regarding the status of the furlough appeals (these are as of the end of March):

  • Approximately 2,000 individual furlough appeals have been processed (dismissed, settled, or adjudicated on the merits) as individual appeals or as part of consolidated cases.
  • Of those processed, about 40% were dismissed for a variety of reasons including for lack of jurisdiction or timeliness, withdrawn, cancelled, or dismissed without prejudice.
  • Of those dismissed, about 63% were withdrawn by appellants or cancelled due to failure to prosecute.
  • Of the appeals not dismissed, 99% were adjudicated on the merits—meaning that only about 1% of furlough appeals were settled—a far smaller portion than is normally resolved through settlement.
  • Of the appeals adjudicated on the merits, 100% of the initial decisions affirmed the furlough action taken by the agency (emphasis added).

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.