Tester and Grassley’s Bill to Slash Bureaucratic Waste and Abuse Heads to President’s Desk
The Administrative Leave Act will save taxpayers money, hold government accountable
(U.S. Senate) – After introducing their bipartisan bill back in January to increase oversight and eliminate wasteful federal spending, Senators Jon Tester and Chuck Grassley today celebrated the passage of their Administrative Leave Act, which will now head to the President’s desk for signature.
“I came to Washington to clean this place up and this bill is a responsible step toward accomplishing that goal,” Tester said. “This bipartisan legislation will save taxpayers millions, make government work better for the people of Montana, and protect workers’ rights.”
“This is a red letter day for everybody who cares about good government,” Grassley said. “Paid leave shouldn’t be a crutch for management to avoid making tough personnel decisions or a club for wrongdoers to use against whistleblowers. I hope the reforms will become law as soon as possible, and I look forward to overseeing their implementation.”
Tester and Grassley introduced the Administrative Leave Act after a GAO Report found that between 2011 and 2013, a total of 57,000 employees across five federal agencies had been put on paid administrative leave for a month or more. Agencies spent a total of $3.1 billion on paid administrative leave during this time. This occurred, in part, because of agencies’ varying interpretation and use of existing administrative leave authorities.
Even worse, the report found that 263 employees had been on paid administrative leave for a year or more, costing the federal government a staggering $31 million in salary payments. Subsequent investigations determined that the majority of employees put on administrative leave for a year or more were out pending investigations for misconduct or fitness of duty.
The legislation will prevent this kind of systematic waste and abuse by:
- Limiting paid administrative leave to a maximum of ten days a year.
- Creating new types of leave-including investigative and notice leave-that would be available for the agency to use while it is investigating misconduct or taking action against that employee. These new types of leave would finally hold agency managers and leadership accountable for placing employees on extended paid leave.
- Requiring executive agencies to keep records related to the use of extended paid leave.
“These commonsense reforms will help managers across the federal government provide a more efficient and effective workplace,” said Greg Stanford, Director of Government Affairs at the Federal Managers Association. “The Administrative Leave Act establishes clear timelines, definitions, and new leave categories, which will bring much-needed uniformity, transparency, and accountability to federal agencies, while reducing waste in the federal government.”
“Because of the Senators’ leadership, a thoughtful, targeted solution will be implemented to alleviate the problem of administrative leave misuse and abuse, while maintaining agency flexibility, due process and employee rights,” said Bill Valdez, President of the Senior Executives Association. “Misuse of paid administrative leave has long been a problem that only served to waste taxpayer resources and unduly hold public servants in a fruitless limbo status, denying them rights to challenge agency determinations. We are thankful to Senators Tester, Grassley, Johnson and Carper for their bipartisan leadership on this issue and to the countless others who have supported and voted in favor of reform.”
Tester has been one of the Senate’s staunchest advocates against government waste and corruption. Tester slammed the Pentagon earlier this week for hiding $125 billion in administrative waste, demanding a full, public audit of the Defense Department’s budget. This came days after Tester had called on Congress to immediately fill the eight vacant Inspector General positions responsible for holding federal government agencies accountable.
In December 2015, Grassley released a report analyzing 18 agencies’ responses to his inquiries on paid administrative leave and endorsed the report’s recommendations to crack down on the practice. Grassley is well-known for beefing up whistleblower protections and incentives to come forward to expose waste, fraud and abuse. The whistleblower provisions he authored that amended the federal False Claims Act have returned more than $48 billion to the federal Treasury that otherwise would have been lost to fraud. Similarly, Grassley wrote the provisions improving the IRS whistleblower office to identify big-dollar tax fraud, leading to the recovery of more than $3 billion in taxes that otherwise would have been lost to fraud. He helped to write the statute improving incentives for whistleblowers to come forward about securities fraud.