Center for Worker Freedom Supports the MERIT Act
By Olivia Grady
On January 13, 2017, Republican U.S. House Representative Barry Loudermilk (Georgia) introduced the Model Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation (MERIT) Act of 2017.
The purpose of the bill is to establish an alternative dismissal protocol so that the government can have its choice of which dismissal procedure to use. The Department of Veterans Affairs already has this procedure for senior executives.
Why does the federal government need this?
A 2015 GAO report stated that it could take at least 170 days and sometimes more than 300 days to dismiss and replace a bad employee.
And there are some bad employees in the federal government.
Take for example, the porn-watching Environmental Protection Agency geologist. On May 7, 2014, Allan Williams, deputy assistant inspector general for investigation told the House Oversight Committee that his office had discovered that the employee had been watching porn regularly on his government-issued computer:
“One such investigation involves a career EPA employee who allegedly stored pornographic materials on an EPA network server shared by colleagues. When an OIG special agent arrived at this employee’s work space to conduct an interview, the special agent witnessed the employee actively viewing pornography on his government-issued computer. Subsequently, the employee confessed to spending, on average, between two and six hours per day viewing pornography while at work. The OIG’s investigation determined that the employee downloaded and viewed more than 7,000 pornographic files during duty hours.”
The employee was making $120,000 plus receiving performance awards. In June 2014, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said during a hearing that while the employee had been banned from the building and was on administrative leave, she still had to go through the administrative process.
As of September 24, 2014, four months after being banned from the building, the employee was still on the payroll.
Given the many instances of employees with criminal records and other bad behavior not getting fired, Representative Loudermilk decided to attempt to make civil service dismissal more like the private sector.
He believes that agency management should have more power to remove bad employees. He thinks the timeline should be expedited: 7 to 14-days’ notice of action and giving cause with employees able to respond.
He does however think that employees should still have the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The Board needs to decide within 30 days or report to Congress to explain its non-compliance. He finally thinks whistleblower protections should be upheld.
Center for Worker Freedom joins Americans for Prosperity, R Street and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste in supporting this bill because it will reduce corruption, inefficiency and poor performance by federal government workers.
See below for the Congressman's letter to his colleagues: