Tags: Federal | Workers | Paid | Leave

Rein In Federal Workers' Paid Leave Abuse

Thursday, 23 October 2014 11:56 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Give The Washington Post credit for its expose that criticizes a large portion of its declining subscriber base: Federal employees.
According to the Post, “Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more . . . 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.”
Frankly, I’m not sure how this situation differs from the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s award-winning telework program, except that on paid leave bureaucrats dispense with even the pretense of “work.”
As covered here, in the USPTO program “teleworkers” surfed the Internet, boosted HuffPo page views, investigated online pornography, qualified for free shipping at Amazon, and filled out fraudulent time sheets. The advantage of being on paid leave is bureaucrats get to skip the time sheets.
A staggering total of at least 53,000 feds were sent home for from one to three months during that time period, which is just about the number of employees in TSA. Another 4,000 were getting caught up on household chores for three months to a year. And “several hundred” were on sabbatical for one to three years.
Even those infuriating numbers do not really cover the true scope of the problem, because the figures the Post used came from a GAO report that only covered three-fifths of the federal government, so the salary figure is probably closer to $1 billion and the lounging employees may number over 70,000.
So you’re probably wondering what is “paid leave?” In the private sector we would call it a staycation, except Juan Q. Public is footing the bill for someone else’s leisure.
The feds consider it the disciplinary equivalent of house arrest, except there is no annoying ankle bracelet, they don’t have to stay at home, their pension continues to accrue, the total number of vacation and sick days increase (talk about double dipping!) and they get plenty of rest since even what passes for work in the federal government is not required.
The ostensible reason for an employee being sentenced to paid leave is some workplace malfeasance. The Post found one pitiful creature in Alaska that worked in the IT system at NOAA. Scott Balovich got his free ticket home while “investigators examined how pornographic images had gotten onto his computer hard drive.”
Now I don’t know about you, but it’s practically a full-time job keeping those pornographic images from infiltrating my private sector computer. I’m under constant attack. One would think a competent “IT systems” professional, even if he worked for the feds, would be able to prevent an infestation, but that didn’t appear to be the case.
After six months of what he described as anxiety, Balovich was reinstated where he is now completely immune from any future charges of porn surfing on Uncle Sam’s time, since his blameless inability to prevent those images from appearing on his computer has been proven by official government investigation.
It goes without saying that these innumerable cases of lengthy paid leave are prohibited by Office of Personnel Management rules that “limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to ‘rare circumstances’ in which the employee is considered a threat.”
Instead, lazy federal supervisors operating under the out-of-sight-out-of-mind theory of management send employees home to marinate in taxpayer dollars for “violations of government rules and laws, whistle-blowing, doubts about trustworthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments.”
I’m not entirely heartless. There are certainly occasions for permitting a brief period of paid leave. My favorite is donating an organ since there’s a hard-and-fast limit on the number of times it can be invoked and supervisors can ask to check the scars.
So the question becomes if interminable paid leave is against the rules, why aren’t the offending supervisors disciplined? And I don’t mean by being put on paid leave. An OPM expert explains that although it’s against the rules there is no complicated and burdensome law preventing the practice so “agencies have used their own discretion.”
Now the call for “reform” will be taken up and much will be done and nothing accomplished. That’s because the only way to curb waste and fraud in government is to have less government. Nothing else works. No “reform” can overcome bureaucrat nature, which is secretive, disingenuous, and spendy.
My suggestion is to begin downsizing with OPM. The agency is toothless, ignored, and redundant. It richly deserves permanent unpaid leave. And judging by the 57,000 other employees sleeping from home who weren’t missed, OPM won’t be either.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

1Like our page
Give The Washington Post credit for its expose that criticizes a large portion of its declining subscriber base: Federal employees.
Federal, Workers, Paid, Leave
Thursday, 23 October 2014 11:56 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved