Countless news organizations have published articles concerning the Merit Systems Protection Board’s (MSPB) decisions reversing the demotions of Department of Veterans Affairs’ Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens. While the decisions were covered by the press ad nauseam, no one has seen fit to provide link to the actual decisions. Remedy below.
This scandal involves an issue of Mrs. Graves and Mrs. Rubens receiving large relocation allowances (hundreds of thousands of dollars) for moving from one senior executive position to another geographically different senior executive position. The issue also involves whether those SES employees improperly used their position of authority to control their own personnel move for personal gain. Since March 2015, the scandal has reached the halls of Congress and referral from the VA OIG to the Department of Justice.
The Department of Veterans Affairs had demoted Mrs. Graves and Mrs. Rubens of recent (complex procedural history noted) and both Mrs. Graves and Mrs. Rubens had appealed that demotion to the MSPB. As the various press organizations have reflected, the Merit Systems Protection Board was charged with reviewing the legality and propriety of those demotions. On January 29, 2016, the MSPB reversed the decision of the VA in relation to the demotion of Mrs. Graves. On February 1, 2016, the MSPB reversed the decision of the VA in relation to the demotion of Mrs. Rubens.
In lay terms, the MSPB upheld the proof of charged misconduct (appearance of impropriety) against both; however, the MSPB held that Mrs. Graves and Mrs. Rubens had rebutted the presumption that the agency’s imposed punishment was warranted. In relation to Mrs. Graves, the MSPB judge was swayed by the fact that the VA chain-of-command was well aware of the relocation proposal prior to her transfer because she had informed them concerning those proposed actions. In relation to Mrs. Rubens, the MSPB judge was swayed by the fact that that the VA had not taken similar action towards other SES employees who had used their position in a similar fashion for relocation purposes.
For those so inclined, I have uploaded the MSPB decisions at MSPB Decision – Rubens and MSPB Decision – Graves.
To be continued (maybe) . . . .