Fedweek

Washington DC, Aug. 7 2018 - Mark Robbins was the last member of the Merit Systems Protection Board until his departure in February (currently general counsel at OPM). Robbins read through federal workplace disputes, analyzed cases, marked them with notes and logged legal opinions. He then passed them along to nobody since the board couldn't legally operate without at least two members. Image: Juliet Linderman/AP/Shutterstock

The MSPB has said that a long-standing leadership void there has shown its impacts in this year’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

The three-member MSPB governing board has lacked a quorum for nearly three years, since January 2017, leaving the board unable to rule on appeals from decisions that its hearing officers have continued to make in that time. The board has had no members since early this year.

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“Not surprisingly given the lack of quorum, the largest decrease was 10 percent for ‘my agency is successful at accomplishing its mission,’” the agency said in a report on its survey results.

It said that consistent with findings government-wide, though, employees “continue to report being willing to put in extra work to get the job done as well as constantly looking for better ways to do their work, and highly rate the quality of work done by their work units.” Also consistent with the general pattern, it added are that the lowest levels of positive responses involve issues whether pay raises reflect performance, whether differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way, and whether steps are taken to deal with poor performers.

Nominees to fill all three board seats were approved at the Senate committee level earlier this year but the full Senate has not voted on them. A backlog of cases—more than 2,100 as of the summer—has built up which experts say could take a year or more to work down even with much of the preparatory work already having been done by the agency’s career staff.