Trump nominates final employee appeals board member

President Donald Trump named the final person he wants to lead the Merit Systems Protection Board April 30, after his initial choice for that slot withdrew his nomination amid criticism from members of Congress and federal employee groups.

B. Chad Bungard, currently the deputy commissioner for the Office of Analytics, Review and Oversight at the Social Security Administration, will take up a term expiring March 1, 2025, if confirmed by the Senate.

“Bungard is responsible for providing executive leadership to more than 2,000 employees, including leading the Office of Anti-Fraud Programs and the Office of Appellate Operations, where SSA’s administrative appeals judges adjudicate appeals from SSA’s administrative law judges,” the nomination reads.

“Previously, Mr. Bungard served as the general counsel for the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and chief counsel to the SSA Inspector General. Mr. Bungard earlier served as the general counsel for the United States Merit Systems Protection Board. He also spent several years on the Hill in leadership roles, where he focused on oversight and government reform.”

MSPB operates under a three-person board, with each of the members serving in seven-year terms that are staggered to prevent multi-person vacancies.

But when former Vice Chairman Anne Wagner left the board in March 2015, her position was never filled. Then-Chairman Susan Tsui Grundmann left in January 2017, also without a planned replacement.

Until just two months ago, Mark Robbins was the only member of the board, serving on a one-year extension designed to offer a time cushion while the White House found and Congress approved a replacement.

Trump’s original picks for the three vacant positions — Julia Clark, Dennis Kirk and Andrew Maunz — faced challenges in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, where Clark was generally approved of, but Kirk and Maunz received opposition from Democratic members.

Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., held to the tradition of the committee that nominations like those to MSPB must move forward en masse, and none of the nominations ended up passing.

In the time since, Robbins extended term on the MSPB board expired, leaving the board entirely empty with a years-long backlog of cases awaiting any new members.

Clark and Kirk now face a second round of Senate consideration while joined by Bungard, whose specific experience with MSPB may give him a stronger shot at committee approval.

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