Propriety of Merit Systems Protection Board Member Serving Beyond End of Term

B-202734: Jun 30, 1981

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The Merit Systems Protection Board questioned whether a Board member may continue to serve beyond the expiration date of his term of office until such time as a new appointment to the office is made. This Board was established as a successor agency to the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and under transitional legislation, the Commissioners became Board members to serve out their terms of office as they would have as Commissioners. A Commissioner resigned from his position as a Board member before he had served out his term of office and was replaced. The question then arose as to whether or for how long the Commissioner's replacement could hold over in office until such time as his replacement is appointed. The Board, therefore, requested a decision in this specific case, and in the proper application of restrictions imposed on holding over in office according to the newly enacted legislation. GAO felt that, under transitional legislation, original Board members are to serve out their terms in office as they would have as Commissioners and may hold over in office thereafter until new 7-year full-term appointments to the Board are made under newly enacted law. If a former Commissioner resigns, his replacement serves the remainder of his term under the same conditions and with the same eligibility to hold over in office. GAO further interpreted that, under the new legislation, new full-term appointments to the Board are governed by new legislation. Accordingly, Board members appointed for a full 7-year term are ineligible for reappointment but may hold over in office for up to 1 year after their terms; however, Board members appointed to fill a vacancy in office and serve out the remainder of a 7-year term may be reappointed to another term but are not specifically authorized to hold over in office. These individuals should not hold over unless the law is changed to specifically authorize it.