One only needs to do a quick Google search to see that the EPA has seen numerous accountability failures over the last several years. Apparently, nothing has changed.
Report: EPA Paid Employees $1 Million While They Were On Leave… Sometimes For Years
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.
Read More at Daily Caller
Now Fox News has learned from the EPA that the staffers are linked to ‘alleged serious misconduct’:
EXCLUSIVE: Eight Environmental Protection Agency employees who racked up a total of more than ten years’ worth of paid “administrative leave” between 2011 and 2014 — valued at more than $1,096,000 — apparently did so because they were involved in “cases of alleged serious misconduct,” Fox News has learned.
All of the eight “were or are subject to a disciplinary process,” an EPA official told Fox News, adding that, “we cannot comment on the circumstances of their departure from the agency for those who are no longer employed by EPA.”
The exact nature of the alleged wrongdoings has not been revealed, nor the specific times when they took place. But the lengthy absences — up to three years in one case — seem to indicate that the alleged misconduct actions, whether linked or separate, cover a substantial period of time, even after their discovery.
The document from EPA’s Gelb to EPA’s inspector general, intended as an elaboration on the highlighted periods of administrative leave, made no mention of the issue of wrongdoing in relation to the departures or to the leaves granted to any other employee included in the OIG report.
In response to questions from Fox News, OIG officials indicated that they had, to date, received no word from EPA in any form about any misconduct allegations.
The revelations about misconduct came as an email response to questions from Fox News regarding the extraordinary paid absences.
In it, an EPA official declared tersely that the agency had “carefully exercised its discretion” in placing “certain employees” on the paid form of absence “in cases of alleged serious misconduct,” and added that “the agency must work to address these [cases] in a way that is consistent with the law.”
Nothing in the EPA response indicated whether any of the allegations had been proved.
The existence of the huge amounts of paid time for just a few EPA employees for doing nothing — in one case, more than three years — has special resonance at EPA, where the revelation first became public knowledge on November 19, in a special “early warning” report published by EPA’s watchdog Office of the Inspector General, or OIG.
(Tallies for each of the eight employees, ranging from less than two months to about three years, are included in the document.)
Almost exactly a year ago, a top EPA official named John Beale was sentenced to 32 months in prison for getting $800,000 worth of paid time off while falsely claiming that he was an active CIA agent, a whopper that apparently went unchecked for years.
In the intervening months, OIG has charged that various EPA officials have stonewalled its efforts to investigate the Beale scandal, and that a separate EPA branch for homeland security has illegally prevented OIG interviews of employees and kept other evidence out of the watchdogs’ hands.
The stonewalling also has been mentioned in a special letter signed by 47 of the administration’s 73 inspectors general, spread across a spectrum of government agencies, and complaining about “serious limitations on access to records” that were creating “potentially serious challenges” to “our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently and in a timely manner.”
As Kevin Christensen, the OIG’s assistant inspector general of audit, told Fox News, OIG in October launched the payroll research that led to its November 19 revelations precisely in order “to see if there are other John Beales around.”
In the process of uncovering the absentee eight, the inspectors also made a further intriguing discovery. One of the off-work staffers also had run up more than seven months of additional absences — at a cost of $57,636 — that were charged to payroll codes for “dispute resolution” and “general labor management.”
Read More at Fox News
Read more about the John Beale story HERE