When you try something 32,000 times (including 1,600 times in one 8-hour period) — whether it’s asking the same person out on a date or trying to climb Mount Everest — and you fail, there may be a lesson there. Which is:
The you-lose outcome is what more than 32,000 feds found out after appealing last year’s sequestration-triggered furloughs. The vast majority of the you-can’t-do-that appeals were from workers in Defense-related agencies. But appeals were also filed by people from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration and every other agency that decided it had to furlough people to meet the sequestration guidelines. The mandatory budget- cutting plan was drawn up by the White House and approved by Congress. Each political party blamed the other for allowing the legislative doomsday bomb to go off.
The appeals went through the Merit Systems Protection Board, a tiny agency of fewer than 300 full-time souls. Normally, the board handles about 6,200 work-related cases each year. Because of the furlough appeals, it got 1,656 in one day! Most came in July and August. The tiny agency had to hire temps.
Most fed-watchers felt there was little chance any appeal (since agencies were obeying the law) would succeed. But unions urged employees to file them if for no other reason than to send a message. Experts are still trying to decode it.
MSPB also had to handle angry letters and phone calls from Capitol Hill asking what it was doing and why — and who was to blame. That must have required diplomacy of the highest order since Congress was a partner in ordering sequestration.
The last time anything like the 2013 furlough deluge happened was in the 1980s. Thousands of air traffic controllers went out on strike (which was and still is illegal). President Reagan ordered them back on the job and fired more than 11,000 who refused. They struck out too.
In last year’s deluge, the MSPB consolidated many cases “with common elements such as agency, duty location or deciding official.” Overall, more than 700 consolidated cases were considered. The board’s annual report says that roughly 2,000 individual furlough appeals have been processed, which means “dismissed, settled or adjudicated on the merits…”
Why feds keep losing their furlough appeals So far, all of the initial decisions stemming from the Merit Systems Protection Board gigantic caseload of furlough appeals have “affirmed the furlough action taken by the agency,” according to MSPB’s annual report for fiscal 2013 released last week.
Agencies struggle to adjust to new Pathways internship program Chief human capital officers say the inability to do targeted internship announcements is frustrating and reducing effectiveness of the program. The Office of Personnel Management says it’s working with agencies to address these challenges, including initiatives to target specific skillsets.