The chair of the MSPB has abruptly resigned

The chair of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the body which oversees disputes involving discipline of federal workers, has turned in her resignation, effective almost immediately. While the contract of Susan Tsui Grundmann was not up until March, she will be stepping down as of the end of this week, with little to no explanation offered for her hasty exit. (Federal News Radio)

The Merit Systems Protection Board will be down to one member as of next week, and while petitions are still being accepted, the board won’t be taking any action for the foreseeable future until President-elect Donald Trump nominates someone.

Susan Tsui Grundmann, announced her resignation effective Jan. 7, as chairman of the board. Her term expired last March, but she was serving in a holdover capacity, her resignation stated.

The vice chairman position has been empty since March 2015. The lone member is Mark Robbins, who assumed his role in 2012, and is now serving in an administrative and executive role.

In a strictly procedural sense, this essentially shuts down the board until Donald Trump appoints some replacements. The board is rather small to begin with, but now they are down to a single member. This means that the MSPB no longer has a quorum to meet and make decisions in accordance with their charter. Without a quorum, they can not issue final rulings on appeals, issue study reports or perform their other normal functions.

We’ve written here extensively on the subject of the MSPB and all the problems which arise from this group. It’s nearly impossible to fire federal workers as it is, and when someone actually tries, the board has the ability to force the worker to be rehired, frequently with back pay, no matter how egregious their behavior had been. This could be an opportunity for the President Elect to really “drain the swamp” if he applies himself to putting more discipline minded people on the board.

But some investigations might be in order to find out how the board ended up in this dysfunctional state. Grundmann’s contract runs through March 1st and, if needed, could have been extended until a Trump appointee was approved and seated. Barack Obama nominated her in July of 2009 and she was approved by the Senate that November. There’s no reason the same process couldn’t have played out again under Donald Trump. No explanation was offered… not even the need to “spend more time with my family.” Was this some sort of protest against Trump or is there something cooking under the surface which we haven’t been told about yet? I contacted the Public Affairs Office of the MSPB to see if there were any additional details and was informed that no further explanation was being given. They simply forwarded me a copy of their press release.

Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) Chairman Susan Tsui Grundmann, who was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate to her position in 2009, has announced her resignation as a member and Chairman, and will be departing the Board effective January 7, 2017. Her term expired on March 1, 2016, and she is currently serving in a holdover capacity pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 1202. In addition, the Vice Chairman position has been vacant since March 2015. Therefore, pursuant to Federal law, Member Mark A. Robbins, who was appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate to his position in 2012, is authorized to perform the administrative and executive functions of MSPB.

Thus far they’re not talking, but “inquiring minds want to know.” Let’s get somebody on the Hill asking some questions.