A senior employee at the U.S. Marshals Service was found to have engaged in serious misconduct, but that employee received no punishment, as the agency made special accommodation for him to retire.
According to a Feb. 13 Department of Justice Office of Inspector General procedural reform recommendation, USMS lacked the necessary policies and controls for ensuring that an employee found to have engaged in serious misconduct received the proper disciplinary action in a timely manner.
“The subject of an OIG investigation had been serving in a senior-level position with the USMS when he was accused of serious misconduct. The OIG opened an investigation,” the report said.
“During the course of that misconduct investigation, the OIG and the Office of Special Counsel separately initiated concurrent investigations into allegations of retaliation by the subject and others against USMS employees who were cooperating with the OIG in the original misconduct investigation.”
After OIG issued a report finding that the employee had, in fact, engaged in serious misconduct, it took USMS five months to issue a disciplinary proposal. The employee was then put on administrative leave for another six months until he was proposed for removal from his position at the agency.
“However, the next month, the USMS entered into a settlement agreement with the subject that reversed the subject’s removal and allowed the subject to use various leave mechanisms including annual leave, sick leave and leave without pay for about nine months so that he could reach his eligible law enforcement retirement date,” the report said.
“This arrangement constituted ‘terminal leave,’ which is inconsistent with Comptroller General guidance. The settlement agreement enabled the subject to retire more than 19 months after the USMS received the OIG’s investigative report, thereby avoiding any punishment for the serious misconduct substantiated by the OIG’s investigation.”
According to the report, the situation indicates that USMS is currently unable to ensure that serious misconduct is responded to with correct disciplinary action in a timely manner or that the agency is sufficiently committed to employee accountability in cases of misconduct.
The report recommended that USMS maintain a system for tracking misconduct cases, develop timeliness standards for dealing with misconduct, ensure that any settlements properly consider the severity of employee misconduct and develop a terminal leave policy to ensure that such leave cannot be used to retire and avoid punishment for misconduct.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.