Jan 26, 2017

ALJ Boini Case Attracts Attention

   The National Review, a right wing publication, has an article on a subject that I've posted about previously, Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Sridhar Boini, who has been charged with indecent assault on two Social Security employees and with having problems with alcohol. The allegations date back to 2012. The agency would like to fire Boini but that's easier said than done. Social Security has to go through special procedures before disciplining an ALJ. In the meantime, Boini is still being paid even though he's not working. This is pretty standard for this sort of situation and, yes, these situations do arise at Social Security. Only a tiny, tiny percentage of ALJs go so far astray that Social Security not only wants them disciplined but doesn't even want them on the job at all. However, with around 2,000 ALJs on duty the agency is bound to have a very few of these cases at any given time. The delays aren't Social Security's fault. The problem is at the Merit Systems Protection Board which adjudicates ALJ discipline cases. I'd be willing to bet that the backlogs at MSPB have to do with lack of adequate funding. I wonder if the National Review would support additional funding for MSPB to help it work off its backlogs. And, yes, ALJs do deserve additional protection against being fired. No one with any sense wants ALJs subject to being fired for merely being independent adjudicators. That doesn't seem to be the case here but take away the MSPB protection and the potential exists. Even the National Review might have been unhappy if ALJs had been fired for issuing decisions that the Obama Administration disagreed with.
     By the way, the National Review article talks about the raises that Boini has received but neglects to mention that they were nothing more than routine cost of living adjustments given to all federal employees. That's the sort of thing that makes you suspect that the National Review has an ax to grind.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the Trump team's laying the groundwork for doing away with MSPB protections for federal employees. Expect to see lots more articles of this ilk in the days to come.

Anonymous said...

Since when is "attracks" a word?

Anonymous said...

This left-wing blog doesn't have an ax to grind, though...

Anonymous said...

@2:34 "attracks" are tracks made by an at, which is a rat who can't spell...

Anonymous said...

@1:10 stated, “This is the Trump team's laying the groundwork for doing away with MSPB protections for federal employees.”

What’s important is to look at why we are losing civil service protections, and those who are primarily responsible. Overwhelming evidence indicates we may very well lose these protections because of the outrageous acts Federal Agency Managers/Executives have engaged in the recent past, in contrast to line employees.

With regard to SSA alone, look at all the acts Managers/Executives have engaged for which there has been no accountability: 1) Recurring refusal to adhere to merit system principles in promotion selections; 2) Blatant engagement in Prohibited Personnel Practices among many Managers and persistent cover-up of said acts by higher level Managers and Executives; and 3) Willful ignorance portrayed by the highest level officials, as someone indicated was recently demonstrated by Chief ALJ Debra Bice, an attorney and a judge, no less.

These illegal acts by Agency Managers/Executives resemble those in the ongoing VA scandal. With the VA, it was the Executives/Managers who manipulated the hospital records and data concerning patient wait times, appointments, deaths, etc. When the full MSPB granted many of those Executives/Managers reprieve from previous decisions which found wrongdoing, the taxpayers/public were outraged, and rightfully so. Recall the case where the two VA Executives manipulated job openings, and were not only able to place themselves in the higher paying positions, but approved relocation expenses for themselves – No accountability, and still hold high paying Executive/Management positions in the VA.

In addition, look at lavish Conferences held in recent years by Federal Agency’s and segments of the military, which have been exposed. With SSA, and ODAR especially, there has been no accountability for Managers with a known, documented record of repeatedly and illegally forcing people out of their jobs for no good reason, and overwhelming evidence which demonstrates higher level Managers/Executives all the way up to the Acting Commissioner, have not only covered-up and protected these individuals from accountability, but have further placated them by relocating an ODAR Hearings Office near ones’ home, even though this person supposedly works out of Falls Church. This is beyond outrageous and completely unacceptable.

Further, look at the numerous acts of illegal Retaliation engaged by SSA Managers across the country, particularly with ODAR, which have been the subject of several recent newspaper and watchdog reports, as well as Congressional Hearings, and the extent to which higher level Managers/Executives have been willing to bend over backwards to cover-up and protect said Managers from being held accountable. What’s worse, whenever one of these Managers/Executives, or even an ALJ per the article, is being investigated or awaiting on litigation, arbitration, etc., they continue to be paid their salary, along with raises and cost of living increases. Compare this with those employees who were illegally forced out of their jobs for no good reason – Do you think any of them continued to receive their salaries, along with raises and cost of living increases, until their cases were resolved?

Civil service protections are sacrosanct, unless you have a Management chain of command that repeatedly refuses to abide by them, or is willing to engage in outrageous Prohibited Personnel Practices to get around them, and then cover-up and protect one another from being held accountable, as is the case with SSA.

Anonymous said...

Boini was a fairly low granter. I remember him making what I thought was a fairly inappropriate comment to my client, saying "you have a pretty smile." It all makes sense now.

Anonymous said...

If Boini had been sober and confined his sexual assaults to fellow employees, ODAR would have only given him a two day suspension- like they did fightin' Dan Hyatt. One has to wonder whether any of the legal scholars at SSA have ever heard of the Douglas factor regarding consistency of penalties. My guess is they either haven't bothered to read the Douglas case or choose to willfully ignore it, along with Merit System Principles, prohibited personnel practices, and that little thing called the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

6:03 is the angry senior attorney who never gets promoted.

Anonymous said...

@10:01

We should all ask you why it is so important for you to try to point out and then denigrate SA- 27 each and every time you believe she may have made a comment on this blog?

SA-27' s story has been detailed and corroborated numerous times on this blog. A true legal scholar would surely be more concerned about SSA refusing to abide by Merit System Principles, frequent use of Prohibited Personnel Practices to get around Merit System Principles, and high level SSA Managers consistently covering-up, protecting, and bending over backwards in their efforts to hold subordinate Managers who overtly engage in such misconduct and wrongdoing accountable. In many cases, they go even further to placate and reward these individuals when the law dictates they do the direct opposite.

You are no legal scholar, but a Troll and Management shill.

Dat;gov said...

Besides annual cost of living increases,
the "raises" could also include
AL step increases,
which are automatic for ALJs with NO performance review --
(even though SSA ALJ receive a lot of huff'n'puff over numbers & pay / no-pay rates, it not used for any formal "performance review" or step pay).

Anonymous said...

@10:41

You miss the point. It matters not where the raises come from, but that none of these high level ALJ's or Managers should be receiving any pay at all, let alone large, indefinite periods of time.

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