Federal employees who face retaliation for blowing the whistle have an option for redress: the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

The only problem is — there’s currently no one on the board and their hasn’t been a quorum since 2016. It has a backlog of more than 2,000 cases and a record of siding with the boss.

The MSPB, whose three board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, reviews the whistleblower cases of federal employees and makes the final determination. Somebody has to have the back of the federal employees who have been marching into the Capitol to testify each day.  A piece in Mother Jones talks about how recent concerns over whistleblower protection have highlighted the role of the board — and the problem of not having one.

When it’s working, the MSPB protects whistleblowers who reveal wrongdoings in the management of most federal agencies, covering more than 2 million civilian federal employees. The board was created in 1979 to address retaliation against whistleblowers. When whistleblowers were demoted, stripped of responsibilities, or fired, they were able to turn to the three-member board of the MSPB for intervention. Recent members of the board have been labor lawyers with experience in government.
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Nearly half of 14,000 federal employees surveyed said they had witnessed or experienced a prohibited personnel practice while on the job in 2016, including rules protecting whistleblowers.

The percentage of employees aware of violations jumped to 46 percent in 2016 from 34 percent in 2010, according to a new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board.

The report notes that perceptions of reprisal for whistleblowing nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016, from 8.1 percent to 14.3.

The report notes: “Employees need to believe that they can safely disclose wrongdoing, and this is less likely to occur if they believe they have seen others experience retaliation for it, or if they feel that disclosures they made in the past led to retaliation by agency officials.”


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Washington Post reports: Trump’s lack of appointments creating intolerable backlog of cases.

Washington, D.C. November 22, 2017. For years, whistleblowers have complained about the political nature of the Merit System Protections Board.  Federal employees cannot have their whistleblower cases heard in federal district court, but instead must go before the MSPB, which is appointed by the President.
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October 12, 2016. Washington, D.C. Monday, the National Whistleblower Center and FBI whistleblowers Fred Whitehurst, Jane Turner, Mike German and Robert Kobus (Amici) filed an amicus curiae brief in a case before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The brief was filed in Parkinson v. Department of Justice in support of John C. Parkinson, a former FBI special agent and Iraq war veteran.
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Today the National Whistleblower Center filed an Amicus Curiae brief with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), in the case of Day v. Department of Homeland Security. At issue is whether the new definition of a protected disclosure set forth in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act will apply to cases pending and/or which arose before that law was passed.
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Today, the National Whistleblowers Center and the No FEAR Coalition announced their support for the immediate passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) for federal employee whistleblowers. The decision to support the Senate version (S. 743) of the WPEA came after the Senate removed a final poison pill from the bill.
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In two landmark decisions last week, the federal Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) MSPB sealheld that it does have the authority to enforce the procedural protections for federal employees who suffer adverse employment actions as a result of issues with their security clearances.  The MSPB recognizes that it does not have authority to review the security