Swamp Tales II: $335k Government Salary, Picnics, and Free Yoga
How about a $150,000 per year government job where every week you can plan the “perfect picnic” for an obscure government agency? If you can organize free yoga classes and “cultural dance performances,” you just might have what it takes.
Earlier this week my column was devoted to an obscure federal agency, the Access Board. This independent federal agency had a $174,000 per year executive director who was not in the office for half the time during a five-month period, paid outside consultants thousands of dollars to astroturf activist crowds at agency town halls and yet wielded enormous influence in the crafting of federal civil rights policy.
While the $8,000,000 budget of the Access Board might not seem like much by Washington standards, it is but one of dozens of obscure, barely known federal agencies that operate free from any executive branch oversight. Most don’t even have an inspector general.
Like these other obscure independent federal agencies, the Access Board has a peculiar way to conduct an employee performance review. The Access Board executive director is reviewed by other officials at unrelated independent federal agencies, who then are reviewed by the executive director of the Access Board.
Simply, in this circle of independent federal agencies, they give each other their performance reviews.
Consider the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), an agency whose purpose is to provide “advice” to the secretary of Energy about public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities. Because the board is not an executive branch agency, it is not answerable to the president or the secretary of Energy.
When the it comes time to do performance reviews of employees of the DNFSB, the independent agency turns to other independent agencies, including… wait for it… the Access Board. The team that does reviews for the DNFSB includes David Capozzi at the Access Board; Christopher Aiello, an advisor to the chair of the FDIC; Cedric Hendricks of the Offender Supervision Agency; and Nigel Mote, the head of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.
Nothing could make less sense than bureaucrats from the FDIC reviewing the performance of the Defense Nuclear Safety Board. I suppose they both specialize in cataclysms.
When it come time for the Access Board management review, an extreme leftist career employee at the Justice Department gets to weigh in. Rebecca Bond heads the Disability Rights Section at the Justice Department Civil Rights Division. She was so trusted by the outgoing Obama administration that they installed her as a front office acting political appointee just before President Trump’s inauguration, where she stayed and stayed and stayed and was only fairly recently moved back down to her career civil service office.
Policies and suggestions of the Access Board may later manifest as activist enforcement priorities of the highly ideological Justice Department Disability Rights Section. The same ideological extremists who held career slots in the Obama DOJ still hold those career slots.
Along with Bond, the Access Board performance reviews were conducted by Craig Luigart of the Veterans Health Administration and Georgia Coffey, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Not only does such an office exist, it pays great — $177,154 per year plus benefits. Coffey earned her mark for wanting to pile on the Trump-bashing after Charlottesville from her government post but was told to stand down. Naturally, the disagreement was leaked to the Washington Post.
Finally, Nigel Mote, the executive director of the United States Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board was on the review committee for Access Board management.
By now, you probably are wondering why some of these agencies aren’t gotten rid of. Good luck. Even the inspector general of the Denali Commission – other obscure and lucrative-to-work-at agency – called for his own agency to be terminated. Even when an insider says it is a waste of money, these independent agencies survive.
The Denali Commission has a staff of just over a dozen employees, and federal employee salary records indicate that nearly every one makes more than $100,000 per year.
If you are really looking for a great gig with one of these largely unaccountable independent federal agencies, try to get a job at the Presidio Trust. The head of this agency makes $331,175 per year. In 2016, three employees of the Presidio Trust received cash bonuses of $141,525, $80,330, and $74,688. Seventy percent of agency employees received cash bonuses.
The performance reviews must have been spectacular for helping to plan fabulous events like Picnic at the Presidio. Every week, the public is invited to a government-sponsored picnic on the grounds of the Presidio. But if you take the job, you’ll need to plan for free government yoga and cultural dance performances every single picnic, and you, dear taxpayer, are footing the bill.
(Photo Credits: The Presidio Trust at Presidio.gov.)