Vacancies remain in two key agencies for federal employees, OPM and MSPB, and with less than two weeks until Congress recesses until after the holidays, chances of their being filled in the immediate future appear slim.
The three-seat MSPB governing board has had only one member since January, leaving the agency unable to decide appeals of decisions from its hearing officers in challenges by employees to discipline and certain other personnel actions. The agency has warned several times recently of a backlog of cases building up. With two members, the board could issue decisions on cases both would agree on. However, there are not even nominees for either of the open seats.
Nominees for the OPM director and deputy director positions have had confirmation hearings, but both are being held up by a dispute that long predates their nominations—what some Republican senators consider OPM’s lack of responsiveness for more than four years to requests for information about how it applied an Affordable Care Act provision involving health insurance for members of Congress and certain staff members.
OPM has not had a deputy director for more than six years and has had only acting directors for more than two. That has effectively left many personnel policy decisions to remain on the table—or to be decided mainly by OMB.
The Office of Government Ethics also has only an acting director. However, confirmed leaders have been installed at the Office of Special Counsel, the GSA and the FLRA.