Watchdog board adopts new strategic plan

Wednesday - 3/7/2012, 7:31am EST

Dr. DeeAnn Batten, performance improvement officer, Merit Systems Protection Board

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The federal watchdog in charge of keeping an eye on agency personnel systems is giving itself a new game plan. The Merit Systems Protection Board has come up with a new strategic plan for the next four years which updates the agency's mission and vision statements and includes new strategic goals.

"We are supposed to be and we are an independent review authority for actions taken against employees and their ability to appeal those actions," said the Dr. DeeAnn Batten, MSPB performance improvement officer. "But we're also supposed to review the merit systems in general, through our studies, function and through our review of OPM rules and regulations and significant actions."

"This new plan contains two outwardly focused strategic goals," Batten told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin Tuesday.

The first goal covers reviewing and acting on individual appeals and assessing existing and proposed merit systems. The second goal focuses on the board's responsibility to strengthen merit systems, improve adherence to merit principles and prevent prohibited personnel practices.

The new plan also covers all of MSPB's statutory functions. "We had discovered in our offsite [review] that we were not really describing our authority and responsibility to review the rules, regulations and significant actions of the Office of Personnel Management," said Batten.

Batten doesn't see any great problems in the way agencies are conducting merit systems now, though challenges do pop up.

"As the workforce modernizes and as agencies try new and better ways to manage the workforce, it's incumbent upon us to be sure that we track those sorts of things and watch those sorts of things to protect merit and to make sure the workforce is managed in a way that is free of prohibited practices," she said.