December 30, 2014
MSPB Upholds VA Official's Removal Based on Inappropriate Gifts
The Washington Post reports:
The government agency charged with making sure federal employees are treated fairly upheld this week the Department of Veterans Affairs decision to “formally remove” Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Care System and the leader at the center of the biggest scandal in the agency’s history.
But the ruling by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) could not substantiate that Helman knew or should have known that employees at her hospital lied about health-care wait times for former troops seeking treatment for everything from cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Instead, as the basis for upholding her removal, the judge named other charges against her by the VA, which said she accepted “inappropriate gifts,” such as a trip to Disneyland “in excess of $11,000 for what appears to be six of her family members for an 8-night stay,” and $729.50 for five tickets last year and parking to a Beyonce concert on Aug. 24, 2013.
The ruling finds she accepted a total of nine gifts offered by a consultant whose “very business is to assist its clients in securing favorable government contracts, particularly with the Department of Veterans Affairs, including five airline tickets between Phoenix and El Paso, Texas, Portland and Vancouver and entry fees for the Mississippi Blues marathon, according to the ruling.
June 11, 2013
At Energy Department, nepotism is ‘open and widely accepted,’ report says
A form of nepotism prohibited within federal agencies has become “open and widely accepted” at the Energy Department, according to a federal watchdog report.
Energy Department inspector general Gregory H. Friedman said in the report last week that one of the agency’s senior managers advocated for three of his college-age children to be hired for department internships last year.
The unnamed manager, who served in an executive role with the agency’s energy efficiency and renewable energy division, contacted 12 officials to inquire about opportunities for his children, according to the inspector general. Investigators found that one department reversed its previously announced decision to not hire interns for 2012, after the senior official contacted division leaders. All of the official’s children were hired by the agency during that year, according to the report. Two of the officials who made those hires told investigators they did not feel pressured by the father, the report said.
Nonetheless, the inspector general was critical of the manager advocating on behalf of his children. “Nepotism, or even its appearance, can have a decidedly negative impact on morale within an organization,” he said in the report. “The impact is likely severe, especially when considering the intense competition for . . . intern positions within the department.”
December 12, 2012
Supreme Court: Feds Can Challenge MSPB Decisions in Federal District Court
Government Exec reports: Federal employees can take their discrimination complaints to federal district court after an initial government ruling, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. Previously, employees with complaints involving both unwarranted personnel actions and discrimination -- known as “mixed cases” -- were forced to take their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals if they wanted to challenge the decision by the quasi-judicial Merit Systems Protection Board.
The high court’s unanimous decision in Kloeckner v. Solis will reverse the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act’s mandate that procedural rulings by MPSB can be challenged only in appeals court.
March 31, 2012
Removal for misuse of Govt Credit Card sustained
In a non-precedential decision, the Federal Circuit sustained the MSPB's decision sustaining removal for misconduct--misuse of a govt credit card. The case, which included remand for procedural issues, includes creative arguments from pro se appellant about not receiving sufficient training on use of the card. See full decision at: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/11-3229.pdf
November 17, 2011
The removal appeal of the employee implicated in US v. POGO is remanded
Consequences of United States v. Project on Government Oversight, 525 F.Supp.2d, 161, 164 (D.D.C. 2007). The Dept. of Interior employee, Robert Berman received notice of his proposed removal for misuse of public office for personal gain. The Federal Circuit suspended its review of the case pending the outcome of the DC Circuit case on whether he violated 18 USC 209 by accepting an award from POGO. Since that case was remanded for a new jury verdict, so was the personnel removal case.
See Berman v. Department of the Interior, C.A.F.C. No. 2010-3052 (nonprecedential) (Nov. 7, 2011) at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/10-3052.pdf.
Read related article at: http://www.fedsmith.com/articles/articles_display.php?a=3183&p=1
July 21, 2011
News items of interest:
- State Dept. contracting officer under investigation for steering $52M of contracts to her secret husband. See full article from Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2011/07/19/state-dept-contract-officer-steers-52-million-to-secret-husband-daughter/.
- MSPB upholds removal of DHS Senior Special Agent, after he failed to establish whistleblower affirmative defense for (1) unauthorized queries of individuals on an official government computer database; (2) unauthorized disclosure; (3) misuse of position; and (4) lack of candor. See MSPB opinion at http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=618847&version=620720&application=ACROBAT.
- MSPB dismissal of OSC case to remove an employee for violation of the Hatch Act is upheld. OSC failed to comply with Board rules to state "with particularity any alleged violations of law or regulation, along with the supporting facts." However, OSC may bring a new complaint. See MSPB opinion at http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=621454&version=623336&application=ACROBAT
February 24, 2011
Higher Standards for Auditors?
The Merit Systems Protection Board routinely holds employees in certain sensitive categories to higher standards of behavior. Law enforcement personnel are one example. The attached decision supports a similar higher standard of behavior for auditors.
February 10, 2011
Is the the term "Conflict of Interest" problematic or just misused?
FedSmith columnist Bob Gilson encountered this question in a follow up a recent follow up to his column which suggested that the new MSPB members had a conflict of interest because of their former positions as union attorneys. See original article http://www.fedsmith.com/article/2731/certainly-bad-law-maybe-conflicts-interest.html#, and follow up discussion http://www.fedsmith.com/article/2742/federal-sector-ethics-have-all-missed.html#
January 12, 2011
MSPB Reinstates Fired Chief of Park Police
The Merit Systems Protection Board has reinstated Teresa C. Chambers, former chief of the U.S. Park Police who was fired in 2003 for complaining about staffing shortages in her organization. A Washington Post item has more information.
December 10, 2010
Misconduct leads to removal
Former Navy employee who misused govt resources (govt vehicle and official time) loses appeal in personnel litigation because he lied to investigators. See full Federal Circuit decision at http://www.fedsmith.com/articles/records/file/Cases/2010/Delapenia10_3116.pdf.
August 12, 2010
IEC Presentation Materials - OSC on Hatch Act (Aug 2010)
As promised at today's IEC meeting, here are the materials from the Office of Special Counsel Hatch Act presentation. Most notably:
- SUBSCRIBE TODAY! OSC now has a Hatch Act listserve. You can subscribe by going to listserv.osc.gov (or to skip a couple pages, go to listserv.osc.gov/scripts/wa-osc.exe?SUBED1=HATCHACT&A=1). Once you submit your email address remember that you must verify your email address to complete subscription. This will arrive as a confirmation email with a hyperlink.
- OSC updated handouts:
- Power Point Presentaiton Handout Download OSC Power Point on Hatch Act & Social Media (8-10)
- Handout on Displaying Photos in the Office Download OSC Can Feds display Presid Photos in office (8-12-10)
- Updated FAQ Regarding Social Media & the Hatch Act Download OSC FAQ on Social Media (2010-08-10) UPDATED
- Links to some of the cited OSC cases:
Special Counsel v. Pattie Ware: http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=505805&version=507249&application=ACROBAT
Special Counsel v. Phillip Mark: http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=520350&version=521812&application=ACROBAT
Special Counsel v. Paula Acconcia: http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=289570&version=289913&application=ACROBAT
July 26, 2010
MSPB upholds removal for misuse of position etc.
Appellant's appeal of removal from Federal service was denied and MSPB found penalty of removal reasonable. Of particular interest is the fact that the employee was initially charged with (1) willful forging or falsifying official govt records, (2) misuse of position & (3) failure ot accurately report information his OGE Form 450.Management did not pursue the 450 charge which Appellant claimed he could not be held responsible for since he was not aware he had to report outside income. MSPB find a nexus between management’s loss in confidence in his integrity and thus ability to perform the duties of his position. See http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=515923&version=517376&application=ACROBAT
June 24, 2010
SSA Admin Law Judge loses appeal on his removal
A Social Security Administration (SSA) Administrative Law Judge has lost his job for, among other things, misuse of government resources:
1. Using his government computer to store explicit photos and run a personal business.
2. Use of agency letterhead for personal corresponence.
May 25, 2010
Two suspended for aiding & abetting prohibited personnel practice
Two Coast Guard human resources specialists were suspended for aiding and abetting in an officer commit a prohibited personnel practice, in the form of creating a job description that only one person could meet (giving preferential advantage and misusing of their positions).
See Office of Special Counsel press release at http://www.osc.gov/documents/press/2010/pr10_13.pdf.
April 06, 2010
Fed. Cir. upholds removal of employee for misuse of govt resources
An NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) employee fired for accessing the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for personal reasons, got no sympathy from the federal appeals court in her bid to win back her job. (Valdez v. Department of the Navy, C.A.F.C. No. 2010-3035 (nonprecedential), 3/17/10)
January 12, 2010
MSPB case on misuse of position & violation of the Standards of Conduct
MSPB case upheld Administrative Judge decision which denied appellant corrective action for alleged Whistleblower Protection, because agency established by clear and convincing evidence that it would have reassigned her regardless of the disclosure.
More specifically, the Inspector General found that: (1) The appellant used her public office for the gain of a private business, Checkers, Inc.; and (2) the appellant violated the Standards of Ethical Conduct by maintaining a close personal friendship with Ms. Dale Spettigue, a principal of Truckers Express, Inc. (TEI), a carrier over which the appellant was exercising the agency’s regulatory authority.
August 03, 2009
MSPB upholds removal, including ethics related charges
See full case at: Social Security Administration v.
See full case at: Social Security Administration v.