The Merit Systems Protection says that an effort it began two years ago to reduce the number of cases pending for more than a year has paid off, falling from almost 10 percent to less than 1 percent today. The merit board decides about 2,000 cases each year; many more are handled by MSPB’s hearing officers and are never appealed to the three-member board. The number of cases more than a year old at the regional level also has dropped, from 7 percent to 2 percent, and the number of cases that took longer than four months to decide has been cut by half. On average, cases are decided in 100 days at the hearing officer level.