USA Today has a revealing, if disgusting, report this week which shows just how great it can be to land a government job these days, at least in some quarters of the establishment. At the Drug Enforcement Agency, for example, it’s nearly impossible to be terminated from your job for things such as being late for work, failure to correctly fill out your time sheet, parking in the wrong spot, running an illegal drug ring of your own or having sex parties with prostitutes.
Wait a minute… what were those last two again?
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed its employees to stay on the job despite internal investigations that found they had distributed drugs, lied to the authorities or committed other serious misconduct, newly disclosed records show.
Lawmakers expressed dismay this year that the drug agency had not fired agents who investigators found attended “sex parties” with prostitutes paid with drug cartel money while they were on assignment in Colombia. The Justice Department also opened an inquiry into whether the DEA is able to adequately detect and punish wrongdoing by its agents.
Records from the DEA’s disciplinary files show that was hardly the only instance in which the DEA opted not to fire employees despite apparently serious misconduct.
The DEA’s Board of Professional Conduct has, according to records released under an FOIA request, forwarded the names of fifty employees to be terminated since 2010. Of that more than four dozen, a total of 13 were actually let go. And some of them got their jobs back after they appealed the decision. That’s some pretty good work if you can get it.
The DEA is hardly unique in this regard. Who got fired at the IRS after the entire Lois Lerner debacle? If you guessed, “nobody” then collect your prize. How about the BATF after Fast and Furious? Ditto. So why is it so difficult to get rid of bad employees once they land a spot working for Uncle Sam? Earlier this year CBS looked at the same question and dug up even more examples. They looked into some poor performers at the EPA long before they began flooding rivers with toxins and found that there were already problems in Human Resources.
At the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), red tape is preventing the removal of a top level employee accused of viewing porn two to six hours a day while at work, since 2010. Even though investigators found 7,000 pornographic files on his computer and even caught him watching porn, he remains on the payroll.
At a Congressional hearing, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy was asked why she hadn’t fired the employee and said, “I actually have to work through the administrative process, as you know.”
That “administrative process” was put in place over a period of time, largely driven by the public workers unions, and it can take more than two years to fire someone even under the most egregious of circumstances. Remember when the GSA threw that huge party in Vegas for themselves which cost the taxpayers nearly a million dollars? Who do you suppose got fired for that one?
The appeals board found that while the conference’s level of extravagance has “no place in government,” the GSA did not convincingly prove that the two managers “knew or had reason to know of these ill-advised planning and purchasing decisions.” The GSA was ordered to “cancel the appellants removals” and give them back pay plus interest. Meanwhile, the organizer of the convention was never technically fired. He was allowed to retire.
I’d like to tell you that there’s a silver lining to this tale, but sadly there is not. We once again have members of Congress such as Jason Chaffetz looking into it and responding to voter outrage, but this pattern has been repeating for a long time now. As long as the union rules remain in place it will be nearly has hard to fire a government worker who wastes our money or uses their computer to download porn as it is to fire a New York school teacher who is molesting students. In other words… nearly impossible.
Look for the union label.