Back in June we looked at a report from the Washington Post which revealed Office of Personnel Management records that showed thousands of government workers who had been kept on paid leave for many months at a stretch and hundreds more who were in the same category for more than a year. When that news broke, Darrell Issa was supposed to be all over the scandal at the time and was investigating, telling the agencies to cut out the waste and abuse.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Department of Homeland Security got the memo. (Washington Post … again)
A year after auditors documented tens of thousands of federal workers on paid leave for at least a month and longer stretches that exceed a year, close to 100 Department of Homeland Security employees still are being paid not to work for more than a year.
The large number persists even after the Obama administration urged agencies in June to curtail their reliance on what is known as administrative leave, the government’s go-to strategy for dealing with employees facing allegations of misconduct.
Now Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who provided the numbers he received from DHS, is demanding answers from agency officials. In a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Wednesday, he called the officials’ previous explanation for extended leave cases “too broad and vague to assess whether other actions might have been more appropriate.”
The original report found that more than 3/4 of a billion dollars had been spent on extended paid leave, mostly for employees who were under investigation of wrongdoing. And that wasn’t the entire figure because it only covered roughly 3/5 of the government and didn’t account for additional staffing costs to make up for those sitting at home. The same situation persists at DHS now and that figure of roughly one hundred people only accounts for those who are paid to stay home for more than a year. The number who are collecting their paychecks on the taxpayer dime for playing Mario Kart for three to eleven months dwarfs that.
In what seems like an episode of Groundhog Day, Issa is back on the case and he’s got Chuck Grassley with him. (The Hill)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) demanded that federal agencies account for hundreds of employees placed on paid leave for a year or more.
“This is detrimental to taxpayers and good government,” Grassley said Tuesday. “The agencies should account for each case of paid leave, especially those lasting more than a year. The explanations will help Congress arrive at solutions to stop abusively long leave.”
Grassley and Issa wrote a letter to the 17 agencies mentioned in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found more than 57,000 employees were on paid administrative leave for more than a month, costing at least $700 million.
Much like the weather, everyone is talking about this sinkhole of money but nobody is doing anything about it. And that’s probably because the problem isn’t that managers in the federal government are always trying to pull a fast one, though some clearly are. It’s one again a case of it being nearly impossible to fire a member of the public workers unions without God Himself intervening. You can revisit that blast from the past by Ed Morrissey for a refresher course. People have failed to show up for work for no apparent reason, been caught stealing from the offices, running up huge phone bills or copying costs for personal use or even spending 50% of their time for months on end watching internet porn on their work computers. It doesn’t matter. Even after the indiscretion is discovered and verified you have to go through an endless series of procedures and forms and hearings before the employee can be terminated… if you’re lucky. And in the meantime they can simply stay home and collect all of their pay and benefits. And guess who gets to pay for it?
This is one of the most stark differences between the private sector and the government. I’ve worked with shops where people doing a pretty good job were fired on essentially zero notice because their colleagues were producing more. And if you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar you’ll be out the door with an escort and your things in a cardboard box before you can whistle Dixie. (Be sure to bring the box back.) But not so when you work for Uncle Sam. It’s a heck of a racket if you can get your foot in the door.