Culture of corruption in federal bureaucracy

Evidence is accumulating of a corrupt bureaucratic culture in many, if not all, federal agencies. Revelations of lavish meetings at fancy hotels, featuring stupid but expensive custom-made videos emerged in the last couple of years. But even worse, cases of bureaucrats stealing from taxpayers by taking time off while still being paid high salaries have been reported recently, with their supervisors knowingly turning a blind eye to the taxpayer rip-off. The EPA’s highest-paid employee pretended to be a CIA agent and defrauded the taxpayers of about $900,000 in salary and travel expenses (often first class airfare and five star hotels).

But this apparently was no isolated incident. Luke Rosiak reports in the Washington Examiner:

Officials in two Treasury Department bureaus fraudulently enriched themselves at taxpayer expense, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

The assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Public Debt who supervised 108 employees in the bureau's West Virginia office “was committing egregious time and attendance fraud," depriving taxpayers of nearly $100,000 in salary for hours she did not work, according to one of several Treasury Department inspector general documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, most of which had previously gone unreported.

The official, despite being paid an average yearly salary of nearly $170,000, "arrives at work approximately two hours late and/or takes two-hour lunch breaks and departs work at approximately 4:00 P.M. and does not take leave," and "consistently conducts personal business involving the Humane Society during work hours," IG investigators found after verifying a tip from an employee who said the top official "abuses her power by being absent whenever desired."

Her supervisor, the deputy commissioner, knew about the absences but did nothing, the investigators said. (emphasis added)

That last point – that her supervisor knew but did nothing – is the key problem. It indicates that in effect a conspiracy was taking place. Doesn’t that supervisor bear any legal liability? Isn’t there a conspiracy to defraud charge that should be brought?

This is not the sole case at Treasury:

Another inspector general investigation found that at the Office of Thrift Supervision, a GS-15 employee -- one of the highest ranks a federal career civil servant can obtain -- agreed to be transferred from an office near Los Angeles to an office near San Francisco and took $10,000 in relocation expense reimbursement, but then never moved.

She also submitted massive travel bills for routine travel to her new office, including hotel stays, to the OTS, which approved them.

She “submitted travel vouchers costing the OTS ... $87,047 in travel that would not have incurred if she had relocated," investigators wrote.

As with the Hines case, supervisors were aware of the wrongdoing, but did nothing to correct it. [emphasis added]

Keep in mind that the Treasury Department handles out money. If bureaucratic malfeasance is winked at there, the possibilities for corruption are unlimited.

There ought to be House hearings on these cases. And the GOP ought to start making corruption in the federal bureaucracy a campaign issue. The public understands that government employees in general live a privileged life, with guaranteed pensions unavailable to the rest of us, with more days off than the rest of us, and with tolerance for slacking that is unknown in the private sector. People once referred to as “public servants” are now our masters – and they know it.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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