The PJ Tatler

You Pay a Billion Bucks Per Presidential Term for Federal Workers on Extended "Disciplinary" Leave

office

Look on the bright side: Although you’re paying for tens of thousands of federal workers on extended leave, at least they’re not wearing out the office furniture.

Irked that you pay Federal employees to goof off or surf porn on the clock when they should be working?

At least they show up.

President Obama — so enraged about the “do-nothing Congress” — might also want to find out how many of his 2.7 million executive branch employees get paid to stay home and watch “The View.”

According to the Washington Post, your tax dollars support tens of thousands of public servants on extended paid leave (a month to a year or more) while they await the adjudication of their disciplinary cases.

Unlike former Senator Barack Obama, they can’t even vote “present.”

During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone….While the employees stayed home, they not only collected paychecks but also built their pensions, vacation and sick days and moved up the federal pay scale. (Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2014)

That’s more than a $1 billion every four years going from the pockets of hardworking taxpayers, to the pockets of non-working bureaucrats. This accounts for only about three-fifths of the total federal workforce, since some government agencies don’t keep track of paid-leave data.

Under official rules, dating back to 1980, this “cannot” be, since employees under disciplinary review are to be sent home only in “rare circumstances.”

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.

Nevertheless, government bosses do as they please, sending bureaucrats home (with pay) for “alleged violations of ­government rules and laws, whistleblowing, doubts about trust­worthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments.”

If you work in the private sector, you know that administrative leave is granted sparingly, and only for brief bursts. Serious problems spark termination, or unpaid suspension. Oddly enough, private companies working government contracts cannot bill the government for employees on paid leave…so they don’t have many of those.

But it seems our passive-aggressive federal overlords would rather make a problem go away than deal with her.

The financial tally above does not include a calculation of productivity losses, although perhaps this is negligible for federal workers. (When Bob left, he didn’t leave no vacancy.)

By the way, one might expect a large number of disciplinary cases to happen in the Defense Department, both because of the sheer number of employees (roughly 35% of the total), and the psychological demands of the work. But only 9,623 of the extended-leavers worked (or didn’t) for the Pentagon (about 17%).