Posts Tagged ‘Merit Systems Protection Board’

OPM to begin new hiring program July 10

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 by

The Office of Personnel Management will begin a new hiring program beginning July 10, 2012. Known as the Pathways Program, the three tiered program will consist of an internship for enrolled college students, a program for recent college graduates and the Presidential Management Fellows Program; a program which already exists within the OPM.

ResumeOf significant change to current hiring practices, OPM will reduce the probationary period for those in the recent graduates program to one year, as opposed to the two years which were originally suggested. OPM indicated that the federal unions associated with their department did not feel that new hires should be held to a longer probationary period than employees hired under the standard competitive process.

Several OPM managers, including former Department of Homeland Security chief human capital officer, Jeff Neal, disagreed with the new policy, stating that they preferred the two year probation period which was part of the Federal Career Intern Program; a program which is now defunct. The managers preferred the old program as they indicated that this extended time period gave them more time to evaluate new employees following their training.

Initially, OPM suggested a compromise to allow recent graduates to go through the one year probationary program, but after they completed a job specific training program. Jeff Shriver, OPM’s general counsel, explained that OPM is working to determine which jobs having training that will require a deferred probationary period.

However, the executive director of the Federal Managers Association, Todd Wells, relayed that his organization still preferred the two year period in contrast to the one year probationary period.

According to Federal Times, Wells said that OPM’s decision, “leaves a ton of leeway as to when the so-called training is complete,” and that, “In theory, it would absolutely be fine with managers. But a two year probationary period simplifies everything for everyone, and there’s no misunderstanding for any party as to when [the training] started and was completed.”

While Colleen Kelley, National Treasure Employees Union President, said she approves of OPM’s decision to shorten the recent graduate’s trial period, she expressed concern that some hires currently in training may experience longer probationary periods.
Kelley mentioned that as OPM did not provide a limit to the number or type of employees who can be hired under the new program, the potential for abuse could create conflict.

With the new system, managers can choose to either convert the recent graduate employee to the competitive service or the employee will lose his job. Under the standard hiring system, a manager must opt to terminate an underperforming employee prior to the end of their probationary period.

Individuals who graduated from college after December 2010 will be grandfathered into the Recent Graduate Program. While OPM can establish a limit to the number of individuals who may use the Pathways program, they will elect to not cap it as of now. It is expected that agencies will begin hiring under the new program this year but it is not expected to accelerate until the Spring of 2013. Agencies will be required to post jobs via USAJOBS.GOV and that these positions must be open to all qualified applicants, though veterans preference rules do apply to those vacancies.

- Harris Federal Law Firm

FederalDisability.com

Monday, May 7th, 2012 by

Harris Federal Law Firm created the website FederalDisability.com to help inform more federal employees on the subject of Federal Disability Retirement. The best part is it’s free to use! Go explore the site and you’ll find that it is packed full of helpful information for both FERS and CSRS federal employees.

FederalDisability.com

We speak to thousands of federal employees from all across the country every year and we’re always surprised at how many don’t know about Federal Disability Retirement. Unfortunately there is just not a lot of good information or help out there on this benefit. Federal employee benefits are complex and can be very overwhelming for anyone. FederalDisability.com can help you understand the benefit and your rights.

Harris Federal Law Firm is honored to fight for federal employees every day. If you or someone you know has questions or needs help, contact our offices anytime. Our team of Attorneys, Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultants and Support Staff understand the ins and outs of federal benefits and we can help you prevail.

Where should we host our next FREE seminar for Federal Employees?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 by

Our firm strongly believes in sharing information among federal communities so that everyone can have a better chance at successfully asserting their rights. It always amazes us at how little information and/or help there is available to federal employees. This is why we love hosting free seminars to help spread knowledge about OPM Federal Disability Retirement , OWCP Federal Workers Compensation and more.

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Harris Federal Law Firm has spent the last decade helping injured and disabled federal employees all across the country and overseas. We consider it an honor to talk with thousands of federal employees every year and help point them in the right direction.

- Harris Federal

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MSPB and the Appellate Process

Monday, February 6th, 2012 by

Part 2 of 2…

After the administrative judge and both parties have satisfied all of the qualifying pleadings, the administrative judge will typically hold status hearings (prehearing conferences) to narrow down specifically the issues to be decided by the MSPB while encouraging both parties to settle their dispute, if possible.

If no such settlement can be reached, the administrative judge will proceed one of two ways. The first possibility is to have a formal hearing and issue a decision based upon the evidence presented at the hearing, or, close the record and make a decision based upon the information contained in the submitted documents.

The initial decision (the administrative judge’s decision) must: identify all issues of fact and law; include a summary of the evidence submitted by both parties; and articulate the conclusion with relevant legal authority that was used to make the decision.

Whatever the administrative judge decides, either party can then petition for review by the Clerk of the Board. The Clerk of the Board is a panel of three members who will hear the case and issue a final decision. However, the losing party of the decision by the administrative judge can elect to forgo the petition for review by the Clerk of the Board and petition the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

These concepts and proceedings are complicated and can be overwhelming if you do not have experience in these areas. We suggest talking to a professional who has a proven track record with the MSPB. Contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your claim in detail. We are here to help!

MSPB and the Appellate Process

Friday, February 3rd, 2012 by

Part 1 of 2…

It is important for Federal Employees to be familiar with their rights and how the appellate procedure for their Federal Disability Retirement claim works. Originally, a claimant (Federal Employee applying for Federal Disability) files for Federal Disability with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Refer to prior posts to see the necessary criteria for this benefit, but, generally speaking, the original decision is based upon its examination of the submitted documents and pertinent facts.

MSPB Once submitted, and if the initial submission is denied, (based upon OPM’s claim that there is a burden the claimant is said to have not met), the next step in recourse for the claimant (now called appellant) is to seek reconsideration of the denial. Reconsideration is part of the appellate process and commonly referred to as step two. At this point, the appellant can submit additional medical evidence in an attempt to have the initial decision “reconsidered” and overturned.

However, if the reconsideration step does not overturn the initial decision of denial for Federal Disability Retirement, the appellant can submit an appeal to the Merit System Protection Board (herein referred to as MSPB). If the MSPB has accepted the appellant’s case for review, it is assigned to an administrative judge. At this point, both the agency and the appellant will be informed of MSPB’s decision to consider the appeal. The agency will receive an Acknowledgment Order and a copy of the appeal filed by the appellant.

The agency has the ability to file a response to the appeal filed by the appellant whereby the administrative judge will review the responses of both parties and direct either or both parties of any subsequent pleadings necessary to qualify this step in the appellate process.

To Be Continued…