Agencies often view Oral Replies as mere rituals. But they are much more than that. An Oral Reply is your only chance to convince a Deciding Official not to take the action that the Proposing Official would like to take.
Agency proposing officials and human resources specialists look at oral replies as mere rituals. They will give you a limited time to schedule a reply, and even more limited time to prepare for the reply. Their goal is to get a decision from a Deciding Official as quickly as possible.
Most Deciding Officials, by contrast, are much more objective. They understand how valuable a federal position is to their employees. They want to hear the whole story. They want to avoid litigation. More often than not, they want a reason not to impose discipline.
This is not to say that every Deciding Official is guaranteed to give you a fair shake. But that should not stop you from approaching your Oral Reply as if it is the last opportunity to convince the Agency not to take action against you.
The oral reply stage is the best time to consider hiring an attorney for a potential MSPB appeal. An experienced practitioner can use the oral reply to frame up broader issues for an MSPB appeal, and can use the oral reply period to develop the documentary record more fully. The time between an oral reply and the decision is an invaluable time for an attorney to secure more information from fact witnesses and other Agency employees.
If you would like to talk to an attorney about your oral reply or you appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, contact the Law Offices of Eric L. Pines, PLLC today.