GSA appeals MSPB's exoneration of Prouty

Monday - 4/15/2013, 8:30pm EDT

The General Services Administration has appealed the recent decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board's administrative judge that the agency wrongfully fired former Public Buildings Service regional commissioner Paul Prouty.

A GSA spokeswoman and Prouty's lawyer Bill Bransford, a partner with the firm Shaw, Bransford and Roth, both confirmed the appeal. The case now goes to the full MSPB board for a decision. GSA had until Monday to file its appeal with MSPB. Additionally, GSA put Prouty on administrative leave, claiming returning him to his position as Region 8 commissioner of the Public Building Service would be disruptive, Bransford confirmed. This means GSA will continue to pay Prouty while MSPB decides the case.

Under the law, GSA should have returned Prouty to his previous position with full pay and benefits. But the law lets the agency decide to put the employee on administrative leave if their "presence in the workplace would be unduly disruptive to the work environment."

Shaw, Bransford and Roth have a show, FEDTalk, on Federal News Radio.

Bransford said in an email Prouty has until May 10 to respond to GSA's appeal. But MSPB has no timetable to render its decision.

Bransford said he and Prouty declined to comment beyond the basic facts that GSA filed an appeal and put Prouty on administrative leave.

"GSA has taken strong action against those officials whom we believe were responsible and will continue to do so where appropriate," a GSA spokeswoman said in an email statement. "Over the past year, the agency has saved nearly $30 million in conference and travel spending as a result of strict internal reforms and oversight."

MSPB ruled in Prouty's favor in March that GSA wrongfully fired him in the wake of the Western Regions Conference scandal that cost several high ranking officials their jobs. MSPB administrative judge Patricia Miller found GSA wrongfully terminated Prouty and awarded him back pay for the last nine months. Miller wrote in her decision, "the agency has failed to submit into the board's record sufficient evidence to prove by a preponderance of evidence the charge of conduct unbecoming a federal employee. Therefore, given this lack of evidence, the agency's action removing the appellant from the federal service must be reversed."

Prouty filed the appeal of GSA's decision to terminate him in August 2012.

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