The Federal Practice Group's Attorney Debra D'Agostino appeared again on the Federal Drive radio show with host Tom Temin to discuss the latest development in the Veterans' Affairs corruption controversy. Following the Merit Systems Protection Board's decision to reject the VA's punishment of their own embattled bureaucrats, a group of congressmen and senators have come forward to criticize the MSPB for the ruling.
However, as Attorney D'Agostino pointed out, the MSPB decision was not to protect corrupt managers of the VA but was because of the inconsistencies in the agency's disciplinary actions. In particular, the MSPB ruled that the VA proposed discipline of their corrupt managers was unreasonable because other higher-up members of the VA bureaucracy have gone unpunished for similar actions.
"The penalty has to be reasonable," Attorney D'Agostino told Temin. "In these cases, the MSPB said, well this penalty can't be reasonable because you didn't discipline people who did the same thing. That's really what it comes down to." Attorney D'Agostino also noted that these disciplinary matters are not subject to double jeopardy or statutes of limitation, giving the VA another chance to re-evaluate the recent case—and even discipline other alleged violations.
Attorney D'Agostino also remarked that the congressmen and senators' criticism of MSPB's ruling felt uncalled for. Their assertion that the MSPB is inappropriately siding with corrupt federal employees is not supported by the numbers: in the last 12 months, the MSPB has heard 250 disciplinary cases and only five times sided with the accused federal employees.
"This is a tough crowd," Attorney D'Agostino said. "This whole idea that Congress is putting out there that they're [the MSPB] somehow coddling federal employees is just not based in fact."
You can hear all of Attorney D'Agostino's discussion with Tom Temin at the Federal Drive website.