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Weather Service Official Arranges Job as Consultant With $43,200 Raise

By    |   Friday, 05 June 2015 11:27 AM

A senior National Weather Service official crafted a new position as a consultant doing the same job for $43,000 more, the agency's watchdog found.

According to The Washington Post, the deputy chief financial officer also arranged to be paid a $50,000 housing allowance near Weather Service headquarters in violation of government rules for contractors.

The deal was agreed with full knowledge of senior agency leaders, according to an investigation by the Commerce Department Inspector General's Office.

After the arrangement was made, P. Donald Jiron retired from the Weather Service in May 2010 and then took up his position as a consultant the following day while collecting a government pension.

According to a report, the Weather Service paid Jiron "to do many of the same things as a consultant that it had been paying him a lower salary to do while he was still a federal employee."

Jiron was fired after 21 months, by which time he had collected $471,875.34, the Post reported.

Jiron has denied any wrongdoing.

"Mr. Jiron has not done anything wrong," his lawyer Matthew Kaiser said in a statement, according to the Post, because he acted "at the direction of and with the approval of his supervisor at all times."

Through the investigation, however, the inspector general concluded that Jiron's case was not at all unique throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Weather Service's parent agency.

"This contract may be indicative of a routine and troubling practice at NOAA of hiring former employees as contractors for purposes of carrying out similar duties to those they performed prior to leaving federal service," investigators wrote, according to the Post.

The inspector general said that during an interview with investigators, a high-ranking Weather Service official wondered, "why we have all these people that retire and then we go and hire them to come back."

The contracting official who helped arrange the deal with Jiron told investigators that similar arrangements "happen all the time" at NOAA, the report said, according to the Post.

The Post noted that it is not illegal for federal employees to be rehired as contractors, but their positions must be open to competition and it is considered a conflict of interest for an employee to be involved in negotiating the terms of a private sector job for an agency at which he is employed.

According to the Post, Jiron was involved in other misconduct, such as pushing for the hiring of his daughter without a competitive process then promising the hiring supervisor he would make sure she got a promotion if his daughter was hired.

"It is shameful that some federal employees choose to abuse their authority for selfish gain. This type of behavior casts a shadow on the thousands of federal employees who work hard every day to honorably serve the American people.

"It is important to root out these bad apples and hold them accountable for their misconduct," said chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Jason Chaffetz in a statement, according to the Post.

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A senior National Weather Service official crafted a new position as a consultant doing the same job for $43,000 more, the agency's watchdog found.
national, weather, service, official, consultant
Friday, 05 June 2015 11:27 AM
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