Environmental Protection Agency

Work for the EPA! Stay Home and Get Paid to Do Nothing—Or Show Up at the Office and Watch Porn All Day

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(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Allan Williams, the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, is testifying for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today about cases of employee misconduct at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of the stories he shares in his prepared testimony are pretty outrageous.

Much of the testimony is devoted to the case of John Beale, who last year was sentenced to 32 months in prison for defrauding the EPA of about $900,000 in compensation. Among other offenses, Beale didn't show up at work for two and a half years—but continued to collect a paycheck while telling people that he was off working as a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Williams reports that Beale's supervisor believed he was a CIA spook, but never bothered to perform basic due diligence, like asking for any evidence to substantiate his story. The unnamed senior executive "allowed Mr. Beale to carry out—unchecked—extensive time-and-attendance and travel voucher fraud," the testimony says. Basically, Beale said he worked for the CIA, didn't show up for years, collected a paycheck and more than $180,000 in travel vouchers, and no one asked any questions.

And, as Williams reports, Beale's is not the only case in which an employee was allowed to bilk the agency while not showing up. Another unnamed manager noted in the testimony allowed an employee "not to report for duty for several years." During that time, the manager entered fraudulent attendance records allowing the employee to be paid in excess of $500,000. Worse still was that, while this was happening, the manager "authored and approved exemplary performance appraisals that resulted in a cash award for the absent employee." Call it a fraud bonus.

Another story notes an employee who worked from home for "more than 20 years [!!!!!] with very little substantive work product to show during this time." Telework is great—in fact, I'm writing this post from home. But it probably ought to involve, you know, some actual work every now and then. 

Of course, coming into the office doesn't necessarily result in productivity either. Another investigation noted in Williams testimony describes an employee alleged to have stored thousands of pornographic files on office network drives shared with EPA colleagues. (I suppose you wouldn't want your pals at the office to miss out on any of the fun.) When an Inspector General special agent showed up at the office to interview the employee, the staffer was apparently in midst of watching porn. "The special agent witnessed the employee actively viewing pornography on his government-issued computer," according to the testimony. The employee then admitted to spending "on average, between two and six hours per day viewing pornography while at work." A follow-up investigation found that the employee had viewed more than 7,000 porn files while at the office. This employee still works at the EPA