Due to the sheer amount of red tape and bureaucracy involved in the process of terminating federal employees, the government was unable to fire a top level Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worker who was accused of watching six hours of porn a day on his computer, CBS News reported. Investigators found over 7,000 pornographic files on this same employee’s computer in 2010.
Partnership for Public Service president and CEO Max Stier told CBS that the civil servant protection system has rules and regulations that make it nearly impossible to fire civil servants.
Unlike private sector employers, government employers are required to go through a long list of procedures in order to terminate an employee. In addition, the lengthy process by which employees can appeal their terminations mean cases can remain unresolved for years.
When misbehaving workers are still collecting paychecks during that time on leave, the costs to taxpayers mount up — into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
CBS analyzed some of the cases under review by the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB), the body in charge of handling employee appeals, and found some surprising instances in which employees were able to retain their jobs.
According to CBS, five years ago, the General Services Administration (GSA) spent more than $800,000 on a lavish conference in Las Vegas. They were served around $7,000 in sushi rolls alone, and a clown and mind reader were hired for entertainment. Two managers were initially fired, but got their jobs back after the MSPB reversed the decision.
At a congressional hearing in 2012, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked GSA Chief of Staff Mike Robertson what it took to actually be fired from the GSA.
"There is a long-standing due process that career employees are entitled to as part of their employment," Robertson said. "We have begun that process, among other disciplinary actions, for several individuals that were involved in the planning and execution of this conference."
Chaffetz says he’s been working towards legislation to fix the system to more effectively weed out bad workers.
“We’re going to pass a series of pieces of legislation that deal with some of these specific things, like pornography, but, at some point, it’s just common decency and a recognition that if you’re not doing your job and you’re creating a hostile work environment, you gotta go,” Chaffetz told CBS.
Just tell that to the porn-obsessed EPA worker. If you can get his attention.