These definitions have been prepared as a courtesy by Board staff and are not intended to be cited as legal authority.

Administrative Judge. A member of the Personnel Appeals Board or someone selected to serve in place of a PAB Member.
Adverse Action. Adverse action refers to more serious types of personnel actions that can be taken against an employee. Adverse actions include removal, suspension of more than 14 days, reduction in grade, reduction in pay, and furlough of 30 days or less.
Charge. A Charge, filed with the PAB/OGC, is the name of a procedural requirement that must be exhausted, in most cases, before an individual can file a Petition with the PAB. A Charge begins the process of an investigation into the allegations by the PAB/OGC, whereas a Petition commences the litigation process that culminates in a hearing before one or more Administrative Judges.
Charging Party. A person who files a Charge with the PAB/OGC.
Discrimination. Discrimination is the treatment of one or more persons based on the group, class, or category to which those persons belong, instead of treating them based on their individual merits. The types of discrimination that are prohibited at GAO include: race, color, national origin, religion, age (40 or over), sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, political affiliation, disability, and genetic information.
Final Decision. After an aggrieved party receives an Initial Decision, the party may appeal the Initial Decision to the full PAB for a Final Decision. 
GAOPA. GAOPA refers to the GAO Personnel Act of 1980, which established the PAB to adjudicate disputes, issue decisions, and order corrective or disciplinary action, as appropriate, involving employees and applicants of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
General Counsel of the PAB. The PAB General Counsel is the head of the PAB/OGC. The General Counsel’s responsibilities include determining whether PAB/OGC can offer to represent a Charging Party in filing a Petition with the PAB.
Hatch Act. The Hatch Act prohibits improper political activities within the federal workplace, including at GAO. The restrictions include prohibitions on engaging in political activity while on duty and being a candidate in a partisan election. 
Initial Decision. An Initial Decision is a decision that an Administrative Judge, or panel of Administrative Judges, makes on the merits of a petitioner’s case.
Office of Opportunity & Inclusiveness. The Office of Opportunity & Inclusiveness (“O&I”) is the office within GAO where employees can raise concerns of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age (40 or over), sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and genetic information. Further information on the O&I process is available on the GAO intranet. Certain claims of discrimination can be brought directly to the PAB/OGC instead of O&I.     
Opportunity Period. After a non-probationary GAO employee is found to have performed their job unsuccessfully, an Opportunity Period is the period of time that employee is given to improve their performance before being reassigned, reduced in grade, or removed from employment.
Personnel Appeals Board (“PAB”). Created by the GAOPA, the PAB is comprised of five Board members and performs the adjudicatory functions of its executive branch counterparts: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”); the Federal Labor Relations Authority (“FLRA”); the Merit Systems Protection Board (“MSPB”), and the Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”). By statute, PAB members serve five-year terms and cannot be former GAO employees.
Personnel Appeals Board Office of General Counsel (“PAB/OGC”). The head of the PAB/OGC is the General Counsel of the PAB. This office investigates claims of discrimination and prohibited personnel practices made by GAO employees, former employees, and applicants for employment. In most cases, a person must file a Charge with the PAB/OGC before a Petition can be filed with the PAB. If the General Counsel concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a Charging Party’s rights have been violated, the General Counsel can offer to represent the Charging Party in a Petition before the PAB. Even if the PAB General Counsel does not offer representation, a Charging Party is still permitted to file a Petition with the PAB after the PAB/OGC’s investigation concludes. 
Performance Appraisal. At GAO, employees are given one or more appraisals each fiscal year to rate each individual’s performance. When an employee has a change to a new Band level, separate performance appraisals are issued for the time period at the former Band level, as well as for the time period at the new Band level.
Personnel Action. A personnel action includes actions such as an appointment, promotion, reassignment, a decision concerning pay or awards, and any other significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions. 
Petition. A Petition is the term used for a complaint filed with the PAB that commences the litigation process and culminates in a hearing before one or more Administrative Judges. Generally, a Petition is filed only after a party has first filed a Charge with the PAB/OGC and the PAB/OGC has issued a Right to Petition Letter at the conclusion of the PAB/OGC investigation. 
Petitioner. A person who files a Petition with the PAB.
Probationary Period. New employees at GAO often serve a one or two-year probationary period during which time they have limited rights to challenge adverse personnel actions taken against them. 
Prohibited Personnel Practices. Prohibited Personnel Practices are 14 different employment-related activities that are prohibited by federal law within the federal workplace, including at GAO. They include prohibitions on retaliation for making protected disclosures or engaging in protected activities, obstructing an applicant’s right to compete for employment, and violating veterans’ preference rules.
Proposal. GAO employees may receive a proposed notice of a personnel action before it becomes effective. The prohibition on prohibited personnel practices applies not only to personnel actions but also to threats to take personnel actions, including proposals.
Removal. Removal refers to a non-probationary employee being fired from their job.  Having completed a probationary period, such an employee is guaranteed certain procedural protections that do not apply to probationary employees. An employee’s probationary status at the time of the action makes a removal different from a termination.
Request for Reconsideration. After receipt of an Initial Decision, an aggrieved party may (but is not required to) request that the Administrative Judge or panel of Administrative Judges, who issued the Initial Decision, reconsider the Initial Decision. A request for reconsideration must be filed within 10 days of receipt of the Initial Decision. A Request for Reconsideration tolls the timeframe within which an Initial Decision can be appealed to the full Board for a Final Decision.
Right to Petition Letter. At the conclusion of the PAB/OGC’s investigation, a Charging Party is given both an SOI and a Right to Petition Letter.  The Right to Petition letter informs the Charging Party that the PAB/OGC’s investigation is complete and the Charging Party has 30 days to file a Petition with the PAB regarding their claims if the Charging Party wishes to litigate their case against GAO.
Statement of Investigation (“SOI”). At the completion of its investigation, the PAB/OGC issues a Charging Party an SOI that provides results of its investigation and legal analysis. The PAB/OGC does not share the SOI with anyone except the Charging Party and it cannot be used as evidence in a Petition to the PAB. The SOI is accompanied by a Right to Petition Letter.
Stay. A stay is a pause of a personnel action. The PAB General Counsel has the authority to request an initial 30-day pause of a proposed personnel action if the General Counsel believes the proposed personnel action arises out of a prohibited personnel practice. The PAB General Counsel can also request additional pauses (stays) after the initial 30-day period if certain requirements are met.
Termination. Termination refers to a probationary employee being fired from their job. An employee’s probationary status at the time of the action makes a termination different from a removal.
Unfair Labor Practice (“ULP”). An Unfair Labor Practice is conduct by GAO or an employee organization (union) that violates rights that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute protects or the rules that it establishes. Examples of ULPs include interfering with protected union activities, discriminating in retaliation for engaging in a protected union activity, and refusing to bargain in good faith.

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