Working for the Gummint. A Great Life for Some?
The Washington Examiner's Susan Ferrechio reported today, "Government has paid millions for workers to stay home." Her reporting is based on this U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) report published on Friday, October 17.
In the report's highlights, GAO explained their reasons for doing the audit:
"Federal agencies have the discretion to grant paid administrative leave for a variety of reasons, such as weather closures and blood donations. While paid administrative leave costs taxpayers, it has not been reviewed or reported on extensively.
"GAO was asked to examine the use of paid administrative leave. This report (1) describes paid administrative leave policies at selected federal agencies; (2) reviews practices in recording and reporting paid administrative leave and describes the number of federal employees granted such leave, and the amount and associated salary costs of such leave; and (3) describes categories for which large amounts of paid administrative leave have been charged by individual employees at selected federal agencies.
"To determine the total amount of paid administrative leave, GAO analyzed fiscal year 2011 through 2013 payroll data from OPM's Enterprise Human Resources Integration system. To review agency policies and reasons for using large amounts of administrative leave, GAO selected five agencies based in part on the percentage of employees with higher-than-average amounts of such leave."
Here is how Ms. Ferrechio begins her report:
"The federal government has shelled out more than $700 million in paid leave to more than 57,000 employees who were home from work for time periods stretching from one month to three years, a Government Accountability Office report has found.
"In a 62-page report published Monday, the GAO analyzed why so many federal employees were home and getting paid for such long periods of time and they discovered a variety of reasons.
"In many cases, employees were home awaiting the outcome of investigations into alleged misconduct and criminal actions. Some racked up paid leave for “physical fitness activities,” and others were away from work seeking professional development. Employees also took paid leave for “recuperation” from overseas work.
"Hundreds of federal employees remained at home, collecting a paycheck, for years.
"The report found that during a three-year period beginning in 2011, 263 employees remained on paid leave for one to three years at a cost of $31 million.
"In some cases, about five percent of the time, the federal government couldn’t come up with a reason why some employees were home on paid leave.
"Overall, paid leave for federal government workers, excluding holidays, cost billions of dollars from 2011 to 2013, the GAO report found, but comprised less than one percent of all federal government salaries paid during that time period.
"The vast majority of the 1.2 million federal employees analyzed in the report — about 97 percent — took fewer than 20 paid leave days, excluding holidays. More than 940,000 employees took two to five paid leave days outside of holiday breaks, the report found."
According to Ms. Ferrechio, the report was requested by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa); she wrote:
"Sen Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he asked for the GAO probe after his own investigators uncovered unusual instances of paid leave. In one case, Grassley said, Inspector General of the National Archives and Records Administration, Paul Brachfeld, was put on paid leave "against his will for nearly two years" before retiring."
As Ms. Ferrechio pointed out, 97% of employees were granted fewer than 20 days of paid administrative leave. The following chart from the GAO report shows the number of employees who charged paid administrative leave, government-wide, for fiscal years 2011-2013:
Readers of Growls who are concerned that paid administrative leave is being abused are urged to contact their members of Congress. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:
- Senator Mark Warner (D) - write to him or call (202) 224-2023
- Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
- Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376
And, tell them ACTA sent you.
UPDATE (10/21/14): HT to Guy Benson at Townhall.com for reminding us "about the state of our 'not-a-cent-to-spare' federal government," and pointing us to coverage by the Washington Post's Lisa Rein's coverage of this latest abuse of America's taxpayers. She provides this additional background:
"The extensive use of administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct.
"And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason."