Want to earn money while on vacation? Go work for the Environmental Protection Agency, which paid eight employees more than $1 million while they were on administrative leave, in some cases for years, according to a government watchdog report.
The EPA’s inspector general found that “eight employees totaled 20,926 hours and cost the government an estimated $1,096,868” while on paid leave. Each employee “was on extended administrative leave for four or more months,” the IG reported, adding that “four of the eight employees” were on leave for more than a year.
Not only that, the employees who took huge amounts of leave time also got automatic raises — despite their being paid to do no work.
“The EPA’s major time and attendance issues and management failures are no longer surprising, just pathetic,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter. “Reforming their policy will be top of our agenda with the new conservative majority.”
The EPA IG’s report comes after an October 2014 Government Accountability Office report that estimated the “salary cost for EPA employees on administrative leave for fiscal years (FYs) 2011 through 2013 was $17,550,100.” GAO found that 69 EPA employees used a month or more of administrative leave — 50 of these employees were on leave for more than three months and two were on leave for over a year. These 69 agency employees took 4,711 days of leave from 2011 to 2013.
This past year has seen numerous accountability failures at the EPA. Late last year, longtime EPA employee John Beale was convicted of stealing about $900,000 from taxpayers while pretending to be a CIA agent and conducting other fraudulent activities.
Beale’s misdeeds were only discovered after he had retired from the agency in 2013 when officials saw he was still being paid despite no longer working for them. Beale was eventually sentenced to 32 months in jail and forced to pay $1.3 million in penalties.
“EPA claimed that John Beale’s fraud was an anomaly, but EPA has allowed a number of employees to waste millions of taxpayer dollars in the last few years through lax internal controls and substandard management,” Vitter said.
The EPA has also had trouble with employees spreading feces and toilet paper in the hallways of its Denver, Colorado offices. Leaked emails from EPA’s Denver office showed there were concerns about “an individual placing feces in the hallway” and people clogging toilets.
Eventually the problem got so bad at the Denver office that Department of Homeland Security agents had to be called in to help resolve it. Agency employees were even afraid to come into work.
“One of my employees refused to come into the office today because she is terrified after hearing a story on the train home last night,” an EPA official wrote in an email. “A male supervisor … told her that management knows that it is a female on the [redacted] floor who has been wiping feces and menstrual blood on the walls [I’m really sorry, this is beyond gross] and that they are worried that her behavior is escalating.”
“EPA has carefully exercised its discretion in placing certain employees on administrative leave in cases of alleged serious misconduct,” an EPA spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The agency must work to address these issues in a way that is consistent with the law.”
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