Feds paid 57,000 workers to stay home; you won’t believe the tab

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Sounds like nice work if you can get it.

Tens of thousands of government employees are currently on paid vacation while they await results from various investigations for wrongdoing.
For three fiscal years, ending in September 2013, more than 57,000 government workers were put on leave for a month or longer as they waited for disciplinary action or to be cleared. Approximately 4,000 of them were inactive for three months to a year, while hundreds were home for one to three years. The tab for this exceeded $775 million just in salary, reported the Washington Post.

Large scale use of administrative leave happens in contrast to government personnel rules that limit paid leave to “rare circumstances” where the employee is considered a threat. The purpose of these rules is to curb wasteful spending and deal quickly with the accused employees, according to The Post.

The report by the Government Accountability Office was requested by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and first published by The Washington Post on it’s website Monday.

Among the reasons auditors discovered for the leave were alleged rule breaking, whistleblowing, doubts about trustworthiness, and disputes with fellow employees or supervisors.

What’s more incredible is while they were idle the employees accrued vacation and sick days and built pensions in addition to the salaries collected, according to The Post.

“Six months went by, and we didn’t hear anything,” said Scott Balovich, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employee in Alaska, who was put on leave from his $108,000 a year job for an investigation into how pornographic images got onto his work computer.

Balovich was cleared of involvement in the case last week and returned to work last week, according to the Post. But it didn’t sound like he enjoyed the time off.

“You’re so anxious. You don’t know if you’ve got a job. You’re getting paid, but it’s no vacation.”

Six months off at $108,000 a year in taxpayer money? Not a vacation at all.

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Carmine Sabia

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