The MSPB has changed a policy on how such cases are handled, due to its lack of a quorum in its governing board since January 2017 leaving it unable to rule on appeals by federal employees of discipline and other decisions by their agencies.
The agency said that ordinarily only the three-member board can grant an employee’s request to withdraw an appeal once the record on the appeal has been closed. However, it said that policy needs to change “in light of the unprecedented, lengthy period of time that the board has been without a quorum and therefore unable to rule” on such requests.
The result was to authorize the clerk of the board to approve those requests so long as they were filed within time limits and no other party objects, except where the request is part of a settlement agreement with the agency. Such agreements are valid only if the board itself reviews them and agrees that they meet certain standards—another function that requires a quorum.
President Trump has submitted nominations for the two vacant seats but the Senate has not actively considered them. MSPB hearing officers have continued to issue decisions but a backlog has been building of appeals of those decisions.