He is enthusiastic about many things and particularly dogged about some. What he calls “bad apples” in the federal workforce would be on the relentless list.
He frames his discussion about federal workers by saying “the overwhelming majority of federal employees are patriotic, hard-working people.”
But if he thinks you aren’t in that group, watch out.
“We have to be able to root out the bad apples,” he said during an interview. By the way, there was no bulge under his coat as he sat on a couch on the fourth floor of the Rayburn House Office Building. He packs his pistol in Utah.
Referring to delays in getting rid of a federal employee found looking at porn on the job, he first cites his “great respect” for unions, but asked: “Why are they so adamant about protecting somebody, some pervert infecting the greater good.
“I am adamant that we have to address that.”
Chaffetz would like to see the new expedited authority the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has to fire Senior Executive Service members spread to other agencies. The VA’s abbreviated process weighs heavily in favor of the agency, severely cuts due process for senior executives appealing demotions or terminations, and prohibits further appeals to the president-appointed Merit Systems Protection Board.
Would he like to see this expanded to all senior executives and beyond that to all federal employees?
“Yes, all of the above.”
“In a bureaucracy as big as the federal government, you’re going to have some bad apples,” he added. Managers “need the tools to be able to fire them.”
Complaining about the more than 100,000 staffers who owe over $1 billion in back federal taxes, he said officials should have the authority to dump feds with “seriously delinquent” tax debt.
If employees dispute a tax claim or have a payment plan, “of course we’re not going to lop your head off,” he said. For others, their heads could roll.
But wouldn’t that be counter-productive? As long as Uncle Sam employs the tax delinquents, it can garnish their wages to get the tax payments. The government has no leverage over a fired person, who is then jobless and without a means to pay the debt.
Furthermore, the tax delinquency rate for current and retired federal employees and active duty and retired military members is less than half the rate for the general population, according to previously released data from the IRS.
Chaffetz, however, said there are too many people “who want these coveted [federal] jobs” to allow tax scofflaws to keep them.
“I don’t trust that person,” he said, “if they are just are just thumbing their nose” at the government.
Read more about Chaffetz in the Federal Diary online and in Friday’s print editions of The Washington Post.