All around the nation, hundreds of thousands of federal employees did not report to work today because of the federal government shutdown. Military families will not receive death benefits, active duty soldiers will not be paid, and the aggregate effects of a shutdown are expected to cost the American economy about $1 billion per day.
Unfortunately, one part of the government has already been effectively “shut down” for over a year. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which reviews whistleblower cases of federal employees, has not had a quorum to hear cases since Trump entered office. The Board is supposed to have three members and needs a quorum of two at least. Currently there is only one member on The Board. As a result, there is now a backlog of over 750 cases.
This bureaucratic pileup is a direct impediment to justice. One whistleblower effected by a stagnant MSPB is Dr. Toni Savage. While an employee at the Army Corps of Engineers, Dr. Savage refused to go along with a fraudulent scheme that misplaced millions in taxpayer funds that were meant to design rangers for soldier training. She was removed from her position and faced a hostile work environment in a downgraded position. Until the MSPB appeals process is revived, Dr. Savage is stuck in legal limbo.
The National Whistleblower Center has urged Congress to pass legislation permitting federal whistleblowers to seek redress in federal courts, but no action has been taken. The NWC action alert also calls out the administration’s failure to nominate anyone to these important positions.
As NWC Executive Director Stephen Kohn has said, “Without court access, federal employee whistleblower rights are non-existent. The MSPB administrative process, even before the current crisis brought on by the lack of quorum, was criticized by every major whistleblower advocacy group in the nation.”
A government that does nothing to reinstate the powers of the MSPB is one that has decided to shutdown justice for federal whistleblowers.