Susan Tsui Grundmann is the chairman of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an independent, quasi-judicial agency that protects the federal merit systems and promotes government-wide merit system principles. Grundmann previously served as general counsel to the National Federation of Federal Employees, a union which represents 100,000 federal workers nationwide.
How difficult was it to transition from representing federal workers to being an arbiter between employees and managers?
It was quite easy because as an advocate, you’re required not only to know the law and the facts of your case, but to be able address the strengths and weaknesses in a hearing setting. As an adjudicator, you are pretty much doing the same thing, which is surveying strengths and weaknesses within the boundaries of the law and the rules.
I was lucky to come from a federal law employment background, having a fundamental knowledge of the types of issues that crop up. When I first got here, my fellow board members and I engaged in outreach with our stakeholders from all different walks of life—agency representatives, private attorneys, union leaders, representatives of management, the affinity groups and the good government groups—and gained some understanding of how they viewed the MSPB. The purpose was to see what we were doing well and maybe what things we could do better. Outreach to stakeholders is ongoing and has now become an element of our strategic plan.
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