Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Disciplinary System

Report Number I-2004-008
September 2004


In Douglas v. Veterans Administration (1981), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) identified 12 relevant factors that agency management needs to consider and weigh in deciding an appropriate disciplinary penalty. The Douglas factors are:

  1. The nature and seriousness of the offense and its relation to the employee's duties, position, and responsibilities, including whether the offense was intentional or technical or inadvertent, or was committed maliciously or for gain, or was frequently repeated;

  2. The employee's job level and type of employment, including supervisory or fiduciary role, contacts with the public, and prominence of the position;

  3. The employee's past disciplinary record;

  4. The employee's past work record, including length of service, performance on the job, ability to get along with fellow workers, and dependability;

  5. The effect of the offense upon the employee's ability to perform at a satisfactory level and its effect upon supervisors' confidence in the employee's ability to perform assigned duties;

  6. Consistency of the penalty with those imposed upon other employees for the same or similar offenses;

  7. Consistency of the penalty with the applicable agency table of penalties (which are not to be applied mechanically so that other factors are ignored);

  8. The notoriety of the offense or its impact upon the reputation of the agency;

  9. The clarity with which the employee was on notice of any rules that were violated in committing the offense, or had been warned about the conduct in question;

  10. The potential for employee's rehabilitation;

  11. Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, mental impairment, harassment, or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of others involved in the matter; and

  12. The adequacy and effectiveness of alternative sanctions to deter such conduct in the future by the employee or others.