Remember the federal worker who got away with swindling $900,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency for over a decade by pretending he was a CIA agent so he didn’t have to do his job?
Well, it turns out, he’s not he only EPA employee who has been raking in a nice government salary despite not showing up for work.
In prepared congressional testimony obtained in advance by The Fiscal Times, the EPA’s inspector general highlights several investigations in which the agency’s employees were paid for skirting work for years, while their supervisors looked the other way.
In one case, Allan Williams, deputy assistant inspector general for investigations, said that an EPA manager allowed an employee to stay home and not report to work for 20 years. The auditor said it started as an accommodation to work at home due to a medical condition, but then apparently escalated into full-blown fraud.
For years, the manager allegedly entered fraudulent time and attendance records for the employee as well as approved them. “The senior executive, who was the absent employee’s prior supervisor, remained aware that the employee had been teleworking for more than 20 years with very little substantive work product to show for this time,” Williams said.
Still, the senior executive took no action even though, the auditor noted, “he knew the EPA was being defrauded.” The IG estimates the fraudulent records cost taxpayers about $500,000.
“Upon receiving a target letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, the senior executive retired and was not prosecuted,” Williams said. “The DOJ declined to prosecute either the absent employee or the current supervisor.”
Similarly, the EPA’s IG is conducting an ongoing investigation of an agency employee who hasn’t been able to physically complete any work for at least a year due to a debilitating disease, yet continues to receive a full salary and benefits as an active employee. In fact, according to the auditors, the employee has been living in an assisted living facility for more than a year, and the supervisor was aware of the situation.
Misconduct at the EPA isn’t limited to just fraudulent time and attendance records. The auditors also cited an investigation about an employee who allegedly stored pornographic materials on an agency-wide server. Williams said when the investigators arrived at the employee’s office space they found him viewing the pornography on his work EPA-issued computer.
“The employee confessed to spending two to six hours per day viewing pornography while at work,” Sullivan said. He noted that the EPA worker had viewed more than 7,000 files during working hours.
Of course, these are just a few examples of bad apples at the EPA. The agency employs at least 15,000 workers across the country. Still, the auditor recommends that EPA managers and executives establish a culture of accountability in order to curb misconduct.
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