The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (defendant) began removal proceedings against Milton R. Stone (plaintiff), a bank examiner, based on Stone’s submissions of false requests for leave. The case was assigned to a deciding official at the FDIC. The deciding official recommended Stone’s dismissal, and the FDIC subsequently terminated Stone’s employment. Stone appealed the dismissal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board). The Board assigned the case to an administrative judge. In the course of preparing for the hearing before the judge, Stone discovered that the deciding official had received ex parte communications recommending his dismissal from FDIC officials. The deciding official stated in an affidavit that he would have concluded that Stone should be removed regardless of the ex parte communications. Stone appealed the FDIC’s decision to the Board on the ground that the deciding officials receipt of ex parte communications constituted harmful error. The administrative judge disagreed, and Stone appealed.