President Biden has made nominations for key positions at the FLRA, and the TSP, two agencies that have drawn more attention than usual in recent years, and potentially setting the stage for a change in direction at least at the former.
Biden nominated for the three-member FLRA board Susan Tsui Grundmann, a former general counsel of the NFFE union who chaired the MSPB board during the Obama administration. She currently is director of an internal office in Congress that oversees employment disputes involving staff members.
If confirmed, she would change the board to 2-1 Democratic control; in recent years, with 2-1 Republican control, the FLRA has issued a series of pro-management decisions that federal unions want to overturn. Those issues likely will become a focus of confirmation hearings.
Biden also nominated as FLRA general counsel Kurt Rumsfeld, chief counsel to FLRA chairman Ernie DuBester, currently the sole Democratic member of the board who earlier was nominated for another term. The general counsel’s position was vacant through much of the Trump administration, effectively preventing that office from bringing union complaints against management to the board. That is no longer the case, since Biden earlier filled that position on an acting basis.
Biden also made nominations for four of the five positions on the TSP governing board, one of which is vacant; the terms of the other four have expired but they are continuing on holdover status. One of the nominations is for another term of a current member, Dana Bilyeu, executive director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.
Biden nominated to become TSP chairman Javier E. Saade, managing partner of Impact Master Holdings and Venture Partner at Fenway Summer and a former SBA official in the Obama administration. The other two nominees are Leona M. Bridges, a commissioner for the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System and Stacie Olivares, an investment industry veteran who currently serves on several corporate and retirement system boards.
The normally low-profile TSP board has drawn substantial attention in recent years on politically charged issues that likely will similarly arise at confirmation hearings. Republicans last year challenged and ultimately stalled a plan to expand the international stock I fund because China would have been among the countries added. Meanwhile some Democrats have been pushing the TSP to create environmental/social “responsibility” funds and/or to exclude companies in certain industries from its fund offerings.
Biden now has made nominations for nearly all of the key positions for federal employees. He earlier announced nominees for two of the three seats on the MSPB board, which has lacked a quorum since early 2017 and which has had no seated members since early 2019. Those nominees have not advanced even to a hearing in the Senate, however.