In a report released on March 29, 2021, the Governmental Accountability Office (“GAO”) announced that between fiscal years 2010 and 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) experienced a 26% decrease in total staff. The most significant reductions taking place in Regional offices which saw a 33% reduction compared to only an 8% reduction at the Board’s headquarters.

A Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey revealed that NLRB employees were increasingly dissatisfied with the sufficiency of resources and the overall organization in recent years. The report mentioned that staff have expressed concern about workloads and warned the Board of overburdening staff and compromising the quality of work.

Although the Board’s total number of cases (representation cases and unfair labor practice cases) dropped by 22% since 2010; the significant decline in regional staffing outpaces the decline in cases. The report noted that this reduction could exacerbate the burden on current staff.

The reduction in staff is also coupled with a growth in unobligated funds. In the NLRB’s 2019 fiscal year, more than $5 million of the year’s appropriations were not obligated. The GAO reported that total appropriations fell from $283 million in 2010 to $274 million in 2019; a decrease of 17% when allowing for inflation. The Board, according to the report, therefore, experienced a $46 million decline in purchasing power.

To combat these issues, the GAO made the following recommendations for the NLRB:

  1. Develop objective and quantifiable performance measures, with associated target levels of performance, for timeliness and quality for unfair labor practices and representation cases; organizational excellence; and resource management;
  2. Develop mechanisms to ensure that the quality review of case files is conducted in a manner consistent with agency guidance;
  3. Evaluate performance pressure on personnel and make resource adjustments as necessary; and
  4. Develop mechanisms to improve communication with the key internal stakeholders to increase transparency and collaboration in implementing agency policies.

The NLRB has agreed to these recommendations. We anticipate as a result of the adoption of these recommendations that there will be an increased focus on hiring in the NLRB regional offices, and in turn, the NLRB will increase their caseload.