Developments at the MSPB: On January 31, 2012, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued its annual report for FY 2012. The report reflects a substantial decrease in new appeal filings at the MSPB, and several significant changes in the overall mix of cases heard by the MSPB as compared to prior years.
The MSPB reported that its average processing times were increasing, both for initial decisions by administrative judges and for appellate-level decisions by the Board. The MSPB expressed concern about the possibility of disruptions in operations tied to retirements within the MSPB (1/3 of MSPB staff–and 1/2 of the administrative judges–are eligible to retire in the next 2 years). The MSPB also cited departures of ‘writing attorneys’ from the Office of Appeals Counsel (the office which drafts decisions for the Board Members), as well as other changes in MSPB leadership.
Perhaps the most significant change in the MSPB’s docket was an over 10% decrease in administrative judge-level decisions. The largest proportional changes in the assortment of cases heard by administrative judges were in the areas of performance cases, Uniform Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act (USERRA) claims, suitabilty cases and restoration of duty cases. Performance-based adverse actions increased 40% from FY 2011. In contrast, USERRA claims are down almost 70% from FY 2010, and appeals based on suitability determinations dropped over 40% from FY 2011 levels. Restoration of duty appeals also dropped, perhaps reflecting the tailing off of new appeals based upon the Postal Service’s National Reassessment Project.