NASA v. FLRA, 527 U.S. 229, 6 (1999)

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234

NASA v. FLRA

Opinion of the Court

refers only to a representative of agency management— "i. e., the entity that has a collective bargaining relationship with the employee's union." Brief for Petitioners 13. Neither NASA nor NASA-OIG has such a relationship with the employee's union at the Huntsville facility, see 5 U. S. C. 7112(b)(7) (excluding certain agency investigators and auditors from "appropriate" bargaining units), and so the investigator in this case could not have been a "representative" of the relevant "entity."

By its terms, 7114(a)(2)(B) is not limited to investigations conducted by certain "entit[ies]" within the agency in question. It simply refers to representatives of "the agency," which, all agree, means NASA. Cf. 7114(a)(2) (referring to employees "in the unit" and an exclusive representative "of an appropriate unit in an agency"). Thus, relying on prior rulings, the Authority found no basis in the FSLMRS or its legislative history to support the limited reading advocated by NASA and its OIG. The Authority reasoned that adopting their proposal might erode the right by encouraging the use of investigative conduits outside the employee's bargaining unit, and would otherwise frustrate Congress' apparent policy of protecting certain federal employees when they are examined and justifiably fear disciplinary action. 50 F. L. R. A., at 615, and n. 12. That is, the risk to the employee is not necessarily related to which component of an agency conducts the examination. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 65a (information obtained by NASA-OIG is referred to agency officials for administrative or disciplinary action).

In resolving this issue, the Authority was interpreting the statute Congress directed it to implement and administer. 5 U. S. C. 7105. The Authority's conclusion is certainly consistent with the FSLMRS and, to the extent the statute and congressional intent are unclear, we may rely on the Authority's reasonable judgment. See Federal Employees v. Department of Interior, 526 U. S. 86, 98-100 (1999); Fort Stewart Schools v. FLRA, 495 U. S. 641, 644-645 (1990).

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