Monday letters: Public employees untouchable

June 24, 2013 

Like taxpayers everywhere, I have followed the recent imbroglio about IRS agents who got overzealous in investigating requests by private political groups to be rewarded tax-exempt status. Lois Lerner, who was summoned to Congress to testify about her role in this issue, politely invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. She was later “asked” by a higher-up to resign; she refused.

What sort of world do civil service employees (the ones we naively once termed “public servants”) live in? How hard is it to fire a civil servant employee? From chatting with recently retired soldiers, along with civilians who work in the human resources field for the government, I have become convinced that it is easier to get a tattoo removed from your skin than fire anyone who works for any government agency. This is true, be it any military installation you care to name or the IRS.

We all know civil servants who toil away and do good work. We mustn’t let the actions of a few bad apples ruin the entire barrel. And yet, at a time when men and women downrange are asked to do far more with increasingly less stateside support, something is amiss. A civil servant awaiting adjudication of justifiable termination continues to draw full pay while on administrative leave. “Money for Nothing” is a Dire Straits tune; it ought not be any agency’s policy for handling bad staffers.

And unionized federal employees have not only the government’s Merit System Protection Board to lodge an appeal with, but they have union representatives to also argue on their behalf. How long should it take to fire someone?

Bradley P. O’Brien


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