Nepotism: Favoring Friends & Family in Federal Workforces

The federal government has an intrinsic interest in how well it operates and performs necessary functions for the people. As part of its self-regulation, it has prohibited any government agent or civil service member from assigning a close friend or family member to a position of importance or influence based only on personal preference and not on real qualifications. The act of assigning such a person to such a seat is known as nepotism, and it is punishable as a serious crime.

Identifying Real Nepotism

The United States Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is one of several agencies that will likely be involved in a nepotism case or investigation; the Department of Justice and the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) might also get involved, just to name a few. Multiple agencies are required to look into nepotism claims due to the fact that nepotism can be difficult to identify in its true, harmful form.

Earlier in the year, MSPB Chairman Tsui Grundmann explained that nepotism may most often occur unintentionally because an appointed administrator does not fully understand the rules regarding nepotism. In other cases, someone may appoint a family member to a position and wholeheartedly believe that he or she will be “perfect for the job” based on their past experienced; to the rest of the world, the assignment will look like nepotism, even though it technically is not. Of course, there are also plenty of incidences where nepotism is quite real, and the corruption it causes is a detriment to the government and our society’s faith in it.

The MSPB believes following these 3 steps will prevent corrosive nepotism:

  1. Each government agent in a position of power should review acceptable guidelines with his or her agency’s ethics advisor.
  2. If there is suspicion or possibility of nepotism, interested supervisors or officials should be notified at once.
  3. When nepotism has occurred, the accused agent should take steps to correct the situation.

If you have been accused of nepotism, you could be facing extreme disciplinary actions if the case progresses. The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC and our team of DC federal employment lawyers can help you understand your rights, explain the situation, and defend yourself. If you have already been penalized for alleged wrongdoing, we can also help you with MSPB appeals.

Contact us online to get more information about our services.