Merit Systems Protection Board protecting federal workers unable to function because of vacant positions - 60 Minutes
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Nearly 2,900 cases for federal workers who may have been wrongly disciplined, demoted or fired are in limbo due to the three unfilled positions at the top of the Merit Systems Protection Board.
This is a story about a small federal agency most Americans have never heard of called the Merit Systems Protection Board. It's meant to give 2 million federal civil service workers, including whistleblowers, a place to appeal should they be disciplined, demoted or fired. It's not that the board is working poorly, but that the board is not working at all. Since 2017, it has lacked enough members to pass judgement on any appeals, and for well over a year, the board has had no one on it, leaving three empty chairs and a backlog of cases that's now in the thousands.

Half a mile north of the White House, stands the unmarked headquarters of the Merit Systems Protection Board, or MSPB.

We got permission to visit in early February, before COVID-19 made working from home the norm. About 100 staffers were there, analyzing petitions from both federal workers and agencies about employment disputes.

Cases that would usually make their way to the board for a final ruling were instead going into storage, because the chairman's spacious office suite, as well as the vice-chairman's, and another for the third and final member of the board, were all empty, and not because of the pandemic.

President Trump has nominated people to fill all three open positions, but the nominations have languished in the senate, awaiting confirmation.

Jim Eisenmann: Without a board, without at least two board members, we're lost.

From 2010 to 2018, Jim Eisenmann worked for the chairman of the board, as general counsel and executive director.

Jim Eisenmann

Norah O'Donnell: The Merit Systems Protection Board. Why should Americans know or care what that is?

Jim Eisenmann: This agency is there to help and protect federal employees from both bad supervisors and poor performers. And all you need is one bad employee, one bad supervisor for things to go amuck in any federal agency. And if you're getting your benefits, your services, whatever they are, safe drugs and medicine, you're gonna want this…
Norah O'Donnell
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