Merit Systems Protection Board:

Time-And-Attendance and Personnel Practices Need Attention

GGD-91-104: Published: Aug 8, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 1991.

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Nancy R. Kingsbury
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed allegations made against senior officials of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), on: (1) the time-and-attendance (T&A) practices of the three MSPB Board members and their personal staffs; (2) MSPB detailing of certain Schedule-C appointees and the pay level MSPB set for a Schedule-C appointee during a limited emergency Senior Executive Service (SES) appointment; (3) the role and organizational independence of the MSPB Inspector General (IG) in reviewing MSPB activities; and (4) a racially and sexually discriminatory working environment.

GAO found that: (1) MSPB Board members are not required to work specific duty schedules or specific hours and can maintain whatever work schedules and office hours they deem appropriate to do their work, but all other MSPB employees must comply with the agency's established T&A procedures and requirements; (2) T&A records showed that Board and Executive Office employees, timekeepers, and supervisors frequently failed to properly prepare and process T&A requirements; (3) MSPB improperly detailed three Schedule-C appointees from the Vice Chairman's office in November 1990, when their employment should have ended upon that key official's departure; (4) MSPB made three initial SES appointments at a pay level higher than its pay-setting policy authorized; (5) the MSPB IG improperly reported to the Executive Director rather than directly to the Chairman, which violated the GAO standard and an Office of Management and Budget requirement for IG independence; and (6) of 31 current and former MSPB staff interviewed, 9 stated that they were the victims of racial or sexual discrimination or perceived that such discrimination existed at MSPB.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MSPB reported the material weakness in its FY 1991 FMFIA report, noting that the problems GAO identified had now been corrected. The MSPB Inspector General undertook reviews of the Board members' T&A practices in late 1991. Reviews in all of the Board Members' and the Executive Director's offices are complete; no T&A internal control problems were reportedly identified.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, MSPB, should report as a material internal control weakness, together with proposed or completed corrective actions, the T&A problems discussed above in the MSPB fiscal year (FY) 1991 annual Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act of 1982 (FMFIA) report to the president and Congress and in each succeeding year's annual FMFIA report through the year in which the weaknesses are corrected. Corrective actions should include examining the offices of the Board members and Executive Director in future internal audits of MSPB T&A procedures and internal controls.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 1991, the MSPB Chairman reportedly instructed the MSPB Director of Human Resources (Personnel) to ensure that MSPB complied with the GAO recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Director, MSPB, should instruct the MSPB Personnel Director to ensure that Schedule-C appointees employed in MSPB positions requiring a close and confidential working relationship with a key appointed official are not employed or detailed in circumstances where the requisite working relationship no longer exists.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 1991, the MSPB Chairman reportedly instructed the MSPB Director of Human Resources to correct the SES appointees' salary histories. The affected appointees were advised of their respective salary overpayment amounts and their right to seek a recovery waiver from GAO. The appointees filed waiver requests, which were approved by GAO in January 1993.

    Recommendation: The Director, MSPB, should retroactively correct the salary rates of the three MSPB employees whose initial SES appointments violated the published MSPB 1985 pay-setting policy to comply with the policy. MSPB should thereafter adjust these employees' post-appointment pay actions to reflect the corrected (initial SES appointment) salary rates and account for the overpayments received by the employees through recovery or waiver request actions as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A contractor hired by MSPB assessed employees' perceptions of the agency's working environment as part of his work to develop an agencywide "vision statement." MSPB completed an organizational analysis in conjunction with the development of its vision statement in June 1992. MSPB also completed an update of its agencywide EEO policies and provided cultural and diversity training for senior staff.

    Recommendation: The Director, MSPB, should complete the planned MSPB internal management review to determine the extent and causes of employees' perceptions of a discriminatory work environment and take any corrective actions needed.

    Agency Affected: Merit Systems Protection Board


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