Agency Chief Rebuffs Union Over Authority to More Quickly Fire Bad Employees

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Flickr User Chesapeake Bay Program

Misbehaving employees should be “held accountable” more quickly, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency wrote in a recent letter to a labor union, doubling down on her request for increased firing authority, which she initially pitched at a congressional hearing in June.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy drew the ire of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many EPA employees, when she told a House committee she would “welcome” legislation that enabled her to remove malfeasant workers more easily.

“Any way we can make these processes move more quickly, I’m all for it,” McCarthy told the House oversight committee. “But there is an administrative process we must follow.” Committee members had been pressing McCarthy on why serial porn watchers and a faux-CIA employee were able to stay at the agency for so long.

Karen Kellen, president of AFGE’s council representing EPA employees, wrote a letter to McCarthy in response those comments, noting that worker protections are intentionally designed to protect a non-partisan civil service. She also called for managers to perform at a higher level.

“Administrator McCarthy, we do not need to make it easier to fire employees,” Kellen wrote in July. “You need to hold your managers and senior staff accountable for their behavior. You need to take a hard look at the ‘country club’ mentality that exists within management.”

In a recent response to Kellen originally obtained by Federal News Radio, McCarthy defended her comments.

“In the context of the most serious and potentially dangerous situations of employee misconduct, I stated at the hearing that I would welcome a more timely process to terminate an employee, while protecting employee rights and due process,” McCarthy wrote. “Every employee, at every level, must be held accountable for her or his actions; no one gets a free pass.”

She added that she is committed to making the EPA a good place to work, and reaffirmed the agency’s “commitment to fostering the type of organization our dedicated and hardworking employees deserve.” She also pledged to provide EPA with “the leadership necessary to ensure that commitment,” and to continue to work with unions on a range of workforce initiatives.  

Despite the recent string of mischievous behavior, the EPA firing rate for discipline or performance has remained well below that for the federal government as a whole. The agency has fired about one in 1,000 employees each of the past five years, while the governmentwide rate is five times that. The EPA workforce has shrunk nearly 9 percent since 2009, however, one of the highest attrition rates of any government agency in that period.

(Image via Flickr user Chesapeake Bay Program)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.