WASHINGTON – The leader of the American Federation of Government Employees council representing Environmental Protection Agency employees is urging EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to hold managers and senior staff accountable for their performance failings.
Karen Kellen, president of AFGE Council 238, today sent a letter to Administrator McCarthy criticizing McCarthy’s recent comments at a congressional hearing. Administrator McCarthy spoke in favor of weakening civil service protections.
“The current procedures provide that the Agency must have cause to fire an employee and that the employee has an opportunity to present a defense to such accusations. That basic level of due process should not be changed,” Kellen wrote. “The problems that have come to light at the EPA recently stem not from an unduly burdensome process, but from EPA management’s failure to manage.”
For example, the head of the office from which contractors set up secret “man caves” full of televisions, couches and exercise equipment has retained her highly paid position in the Senior Executive Service, even though the Inspector General found that the manager sold products from her desk and hired relatives to work for the agency, Kellen wrote. Yet several federal employees who worked in the office have been suspended for failing to report the contractors’ activity, even though they were not responsible for overseeing their work.
“Managers at EPA are not being held accountable for their actions and inactions to the same degree as staff-level employees,” Kellen wrote. “At EPA, the buck does not stop at the top; rather, it rolls down onto those least able to defend themselves and with the least say in decisions.”