Friday, February 10, 2017

Get Paid to Do Nothing, Work for the Government

I was not surprised to learn that the federal government has a pattern of putting workers on paid administrative leave for months and even years, many of these workers have been accused of misconduct or whistleblowing. We, the taxpayers, are paying their salaries.

In 2014 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the procedures of five departments:
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • General Services Administration (GSA)

Results of the review showed these departments paid a collective $3.1 BILLION to workers on paid administrative leave from 2011 to 2013. The report found in that time frame 57,000 employees were on paid leave for one month or longer at a cost of $775 MILLION.
Most workers are placed on administrative leave because of an ongoing investigation involving misconduct, employee disputes or grievances and whistleblowing.
These issues I'll admit are probably complicated and need to be handled with care and clarity. But it seems to me the department officials are dragging their feet in resolving those issues. Maybe the government can step up their efforts to resolve employee issues and get them off paid leave. They need to make a decision one way or another which will allow the employees to return to work or look for another job.

Cost to taxpayers:  Astronomical and perpetual.

Fed Bldg San Pedro CA Unsafe and Uninhabitable Since 2007

If you think the federal government is wasting taxpayer dollars, you're right. Here is another way the government spent our money and accomplished nothing. This building in San Pedro, California has been inspected and deemed unsafe.
 What is it?

This is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigrant detention center on Terminal Island off San Pedro, CA., owned by the Department of Homeland Security. (DHS). It housed hundreds of immigrant detainees and offices for employees.

What happened?

In 2007 the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection of the building and found several unsafe conditions, mostly fire related such as:
  • Sprinkler systems had been turned off
  • The fire alarm system does not cover the entire building and does not connect with outside sources such as a monitoring station.
  • There are no smoke detectors, horns or strobe lights.
(this is just a partial list)

Posing an imminent risk to employees, the OIG ordered the building closed and vacated until the problems could be fixed.
In 2008 ICE officials decided to use the building again without making any improvements, putting the lives of employees in danger.  

Fast forward to 2012 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted an inspection of the facility and found many “critical life safety issues that should be addressed immediately” and that the building is not a safe work environment.

Cost to taxpayers:

Between 2008 and 2014 ICE spent $4.2M to repair the building but it was still unsafe in 2014 when the OIG made another inspection. In 2015 ICE was awarded $1.2M for more repairs. Without a solid long-term plan, ICE had the repair work done in series of small projects and patchwork repairs. The building is still unsafe and empty at a cost of $6,000,000.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Truck Drivers on Diets and the Feds

The American economy depends heavily on the thousands of long-haul trucks on the road and the drivers who spend days, weeks and months at a time delivering the products we use every day. The good health of these drivers should be of importance to all of us. But, is this just another way that the federal government wastes taxpayer dollars?

The National Institutes of Health awarded a four-year grant (2011-2015) to Oregon Health and Science University to conduct a cell-phone-based program for truckers to engage in a “weight loss competition” and “motivational interviewing”. Yes, really!

The program began with a six-month weight monitoring program then concluded with a 30-month follow up study, for each trucker. The purpose was to determine if the truckers could make healthier decisions on their own, without further intervention or motivation from outside sources.

Cost to taxpayers:  $2.6 million

Do you think this is money well spent?  I certainly encourage truckers, and everyone else, to make healthy living choices. Below are a few of my ideas at no cost to taxpayers.

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