History of EPA Employee Misconduct Could Result in Layoffs
Only 6.5 percent of EPA employees are ‘essential’
The Environmental Protection Agency has been riddled with employee misconduct, including workers who drink, smoke marijuana, and watch porn on the job.
Inspector general reports over the past few years detailing employee misbehavior could serve as ammunition for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is seeking to eliminate 25 percent of the 15,000 employees at the agency.
Only 6.5 percent of EPA employees are “essential,” according to the government’s own calculations when it faced a shutdown in 2013. At the time, just 1,069 employees were deemed necessary to continue working during the 16 days the government closed.
The geologist in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation downloaded over 7,000 pornographic files on an agency server and admitted to masturbating at work. He received paid leave for nearly two years after being caught.
The official was not alone in viewing pornography at the EPA. Another employee was suspended just five days after admitting that he had “watched pornography regularly at work for the past several years,” the inspector general reported to Congress last year. The employee’s punishment was he no longer could telework or “attach any unauthorized external drive devices to a government computer.”
Another EPA contractor admitted he watched pornography on a government computer for 18 years, the inspector general said. The contractor said he was “addicted” to porn and was fired by his company. The inspector general recovered $22,088 of the contractor’s salary, which was equivalent to the amount of hours he had viewed pornography at work over the course of one year.
The agency also has employed convicted child molesters, including one employee who the EPA paid $55,000 to retire because officials could not fire him.
Other EPA employees have been caught growing marijuana and drinking on the job.
One employee was arrested in 2015 after trying to bring “three grams of marijuana and two marijuana pipes through the security checkpoint at an Internal Revenue Service facility in Denver, Colorado.” After receiving a conviction of a $2,500 fine and 20 hours of community service, the employee was suspended from the EPA for 21 days, the inspector general said.
Another EPA employee had a “marijuana growing operation in her residence.” She was placed on administrative leave for seven months before retiring in 2014.
The inspector general also reported last year that an employee was arrested for drunk driving while on the job. The employee also abused time-and-attendance policies, and “had been arrested for driving under the influence three times, one of which occurred during a work day for which the employee charged eight hours of telework.”
“On one of the other occasions, the employee was arrested while driving to work,” said the inspector general. The employee resigned before he could be fired.
Another EPA employee became known as the “poop bandit,” after smearing “feces in the hallway” at an EPA office in Denver. It is unclear if the EPA employee was ever identified, even after the situation became much worse.
The Trump administration’s goal is to cut the EPA workforce by 25 percent and reduce the agency’s budget to $5.7 billion.