The vast majority of civil servants are dedicated employees doing their best to assist citizens, solve problems, and ensure compliance while navigating through mountains of rules and forms. But there are those that are ineffective, incompetent, or just plain lazy. Lucky for them, there’s another mountain of rules designed to keep them firmly planted in their office chair. In fact, they’re more likely to die in that chair than ever be fired.
In 2011, the federal government fired just 0.55% of its workers—11,668 employees out of its 2.1 million workforce. The private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance. Public employees simply aren’t held to the same standards as private sector workers. Trying to terminate a bad public employee can consume years of a manager’s energy.
At the EPA, workers who watched porn all day, or faked time sheets, or even worked at another job while on the federal clock kept their jobs or were placed on paid administrative leave for years.
The massive, nationwide mismanagement scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs resulted in a grand total of three people being fired.
The laziness, incompetence, and dereliction of duty of 20 New York State prison employees’ enabled two killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, to escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility. The two guards who directly aided the escapees have been sentenced to prison. The other 18, however, will have few if any serious consequences as the collective bargaining agreement with the corrections officers’ union makes it almost impossible to fire a guard.
New York City’s infamous “rubber rooms” house dozens of exiled teachers awaiting disciplinary rulings. They can wait there for months and even years, receiving their full salary the entire time.