EDITORIAL: The EPA’s poop perp creates genuine government waste

Government waste redefined at Environmental Protection Agency

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The Environmental Protection Agency gives a whole new meaning to government waste. It’s accustomed to flushing tax dollars down the toilet, and now the agency has dealt with so many incidents of employees clogging the toilets with paper towels and even “placing feces in the hallway,” that an official at the EPA’s office in Denver dispatched a mass email pleading with the slackers and bums responsible to cease and desist.

“Management is taking this situation seriously,” wrote the EPA’s deputy regional administrator, Howard Cantor, “and will take whatever actions are necessary to identify and prosecute these individuals.” In his email, obtained by Government Executive magazine, Mr. Cantor asked for any employees with knowledge of the poop perpetrator to notify a supervisor.

Management at the EPA — flush with cash — then consulted John Nicoletti, said to be a “national expert” on workplace violence, for advice on what to do next. Mr. Nicoletti averred that using the hallway to do one’s business is definitely a threat to the health of employees. Such behavior, he added, is “very dangerous” and that the perpetrator’s actions would “probably escalate.”

“Our brief consultation with Dr. Nicoletti on this matter,” said EPA spokesman Richard Mylott, ” … reflects our commitment to securing a safe workplace.”

Even if the scatological scofflaw is ultimately identified, little is likely be done about it. Even among federal agencies where “public servants” are invulnerable, the EPA has a remarkably low firing rate. In fiscal 2010, the agency terminated only 19 of its 18,742 employees, or 1/1,000 of 1 percent. Even fewer guvvies are being kicked to the curb today. For fiscal 2013, Federal Times reported last week, “Federal firings continue to drop.” Just 0.46 percent of the federal workforce of 2.05 million was fired, down from 0.49 percent the year before.

It’s not clear what level of depravity is required to merit a pink slip. At the EPA, employees are routinely suspended (not fired) when caught watching porn on agency computers while working on the clock. One EPA employee was allowed to retire before he was convicted for possession of child pornography. At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in May, the agency’s deputy inspector general reported that the latest pervy perp spent up to six hours a day at his official desk “actively viewing porn.” He was surprised in mid-view when investigators arrived at his office door.

The Justice Department has taken over the case for prosecution of the peeper, but he’s probably not too worried since Attorney General Eric (“I see nothing”) Holder Jr. is a graduate of the See No Evil School of Prosecution. The poop perp can probably skip to the loo, confident he’ll be able to continue contributing to government waste, one way or the other.

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