FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 26, 2022
Government Accountability Project Applauds the Senate Confirmation of Cathy Harris for U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board
WASHINGTON- Today, Government Accountability Project hails the Senate confirmation of Cathy Harris as a Member of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. The Board is the only due process for civil service rights, including the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Legal Director Tom Devine commented:
“For the first time since February 2015, the enforcement channels for the merit system are fully staffed and functional. This victory for taxpayers would not have happened without the leadership and persistence of Senator Schumer. His staff’s patient determination was relentless.”
The board hadn’t had a quorum for more than five years, and it hadn’t had any members at all since March 2019, resulting in the largest-ever backlog of more than 3,500 cases. As a result, government whistleblowers waiting for board review of their retaliation claims were in limbo while their only due process channel for relief under the Whistleblower Protection Act was paralyzed. This inaction opened an opportunity to many larger issues, including federal agencies taking advantage of the long wait on unresolved cases, large back pay ordered to be paid to federal employees with wrongful termination or demotion claims, and the jeopardizing of the existence of meaningfully enforceable employment rights for millions of Americans. Making the vacuum worse was a resulting inability to act on stay petitions by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to obtain temporary relief during lengthy delays for pending cases.
Devine expressed disappointment that the final 48-46 vote was strictly partisan:
“While there may be a partisan divide on Ms. Harris in the Senate, it is not shared in the professional community. She has represented both employee and management clients and earned the deep respect of her peers whatever their politics.”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director
Phone: (202) 926-3304
Government Accountability Project
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.