Then God blessed paid leave for federal employees under investigation and made it holy, reports The Washington Post:
Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work.
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) … found that 53,000 civilian employees were kept home for one to three months during the three fiscal years that ended in September 2013. About 4,000 were idled for three months to a year and several hundred for one to three years.
Over the three year period, idle federal employees were paid $775 million in salaries to sit tight and wait in bureaucratic purgatory. And if full pay wasn't enough to mollify the unoccupied exiles, employees "also built their pensions, vacation and sick days and moved up the federal pay scale." The report is most likely lowballing those statistics as well: The GAO only looked at about three-fifths of the federal government because many agencies don't report the number of employees on paid leave.
But getting paid to do nothing is no stint on the Isles of the Blessed, according to some inactive feds. The Washington Post tells the, uh, maudlin tale of Scott Balovich, an IT systems worker for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Alaska:
Balovich, who makes $108,000 a year, was paid not to work while investigators examined how pornographic images had gotten onto his computer hard drive.
Perhaps he should talk to an Environmental Protection Agency employee, who faced similar queries. Balovich describes the hardship of getting paid to do jack:
"Six months went by, and we didn't hear anything…You're so anxious. You don't know if you've got a job. You're getting paid, but it's no vacation."
No vacation, indeed. Another Washington Post exposé from 2012 details the travails of Paul Brachfield, the inspector general for the National Archives:
He planned to ring in the new year with his wife with a relaxed visit to their vacation home near Bethany Beach, Del. In October, the couple took a cruise to Puerto Rico. Brachfeld runs every morning in Silver Spring, hikes with Spree, his Jack Russell terrier, in the woods most afternoons and catches up with his adult daughters in the evening. All while collecting his $186,000 government salary. These days, his life seems like one long vacation.
Unsurprisingly, the government's Office of Personnel Management already has rules regulating paid leave, though apparently no one follows them. Except for "rare circumstances," such as when an someone is a direct threat, an employee is to "remain in a duty status" during disciplinary proceedings. As the fictional Sgt. Bilko said, "We have rules, rules, and regulations!" It would seem those rules fly out the window when managers need an easy way to shunt aside problem employees.