The Government Accountability Office has released a report which indicates irregularities in the use of administrative leave in several federal agencies.
The Washington Post has reported that tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for long periods while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work.
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.
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.
The report on administrative leave which was published by The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the most common reasons for charging higher-than-average amounts of paid administrative leave included personnel matters such as investigations into alleged misconduct or criminal actions.
The report also found that supervisors used wide discretion in putting employees on leave, including 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.
The Government Accountability Office is an independent agency which provides audit, evaluation and investigative services to the U.S.Congress.
The Inquisitr revealed that a Government Accountability Office report showed that President Obama missed more than half of the intelligence briefings which were held this year.
The report on administrative leave was commissioned by Senator Charles Grassley, Senator Tom Coburn and Republican Representative for California Darrell Issa.
The Toledo Chronicle reported that Senator Grassley has expressed alarm at the findings of the report.
“These employees should be working for the taxpayers, not getting paid to stay home. Paid leave is an excuse for managers not to manage and put off a decision on what to do with employees accused of misconduct or who blow the whistle or dispute a personnel action. The mentality seems to be out of sight, out of mind, and that’s not the way to run the government or act responsibly with tax dollars.”
The agencies reviewed included the Departments of Defense (DOD), the Interior and Veterans Affairs (VA), the General Services Administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
[Image via Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]