Report: Federal Employees Have 99.47% Chance of Never Being Fired for Cause

stopgap-first-amendment left conservatives violence federal employees fired causeThe Americans for Limited Government Foundation released a report written by Natalia Castro that finds rampant abuse and inefficiency within the U.S. Civil Service.

“In order to limit the government and drain the swamp, managers in the federal government must be able to fire poor performing employees on an expedited basis. Right now, the current system protects bad employees. What was supposed to be a merit system has turned into an entitlement system for insulated, unaccountable federal employees. To drain the swamp, we have to be able to fire the swamp,” Rick Manning, President of the Americans for Limited Government Foundation, said.

Castro outlined the history of positive reforms that prevented employees from being hired and fired on a partisan basis. However, the increased influence of unions gave employees extraordinary protection.

“In order for the American people to trust the effectiveness of the bureaucracy, protections were put in place to eliminate partisanship. Unfortunately, empowering unions has also meant disempowering leadership and creating an ineffective process for removing poor performers,” Castro writes.

It’s challenging, if not impossible, to fire an ineffective employee, Castro found. For instance:

  • The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that it takes an average of 170 to 370 days to remove poor performing employees.
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope reveals that the public sector maintains a separations rate of 3.37 percent while the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTs Survey has a separation rate of 17.27 percent.
  • FedScope also reveals that the public sector termination for cause rate is 0.53 percent meaning that federal employees have a 99.47 percent chance of never being fired for cause.
  • The U.S. Department of Education in FY 2018 had the lowest termination rate for cause at 0.14 percent when only ten employees of over 3,900 were fired for cause. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had the highest rate for cause at 1.04 percent when 1,810 employees out of a workforce of roughly 229,000 (2017 number) were fired.

Castro also provided examples of abuse within the civil service, for example:

A May 2016 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation into a Dallas GS-13 EPA employee detailed a 10-year battle to remove the employee. The report explains, “In March 2006, the OIG Dallas Field Office was informed that a GS-13 EPA Enforcement Officer was cited by the Dallas Police Department for the improper use of emergency lights on his personal vehicle while also being a registered sex offender… The EPA employee also possessed a makeshift badge, which accompanied his administrative EPA Enforcement Officer credentials, which were displayed by the employee to the police officer. This led the police officer to believe that the employee was an EPA law enforcement officer. The EPA employee also used emergency lights affixed to his personal vehicle at an accident scene.”

The OIG investigation continued to uncover that the EPA employee had created at least 20 similar “EPA enforcement badges” and a bulletproof vest. This was the second time the employee had to be counseled by EPA officials for using emergency lights on his personal vehicle.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Attorney’s office still declined to prosecute the employee, instead moving him to an administrative position within the office.

It was not until August 2013 when the employee was arrested again for violating his parole that he was indefinitely suspended and, in January 2014, terminated. But that was only until the decision was overturned on appeal and the EPA was forced to re-hire the employee. The employee continued working for the agency until January 2015, a full year after the employee’s initial termination, when a settlement was reached. The employee agreed to resign in exchange for an undisclosed consideration.

Castro cited H.R. 559, the Modern Employment Reform, Innovation, and Transformation Act of 2017, (MERIT Act) sponsored by Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) as a solution for reform within all federal departments. If passed the bill would:

  • Increase agency management’s power to remove poor employees;
  • Expedite timelines; 7 – 21 days’ notice of action; simple presentation of cause with employees given opportunity to respond;
  • Cap appeal decision time at 30 days, after which the dismissal is upheld, unless declared otherwise;
  • Require that if the 30-day deadline is not met the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) must report to Congress and the oversight committees in the House and Senate and explain non-compliance; and
  • Uphold whistleblower protections.

Reprinted with permission from - Caffeinated Thoughts - by Shane Vander Hart

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Wayne Peterkin

Disgusting statistic but no surprise. Federal employment is almost as close to a lifetime guaranteed job as a Supreme Court justice and has been most of my long life. Pass the bill. Incompetent employees anywhere need weeded out.

Sue G. Clausing

This is long overdue! It would definitely clean up a lot of corruption.

Garland Young

Unions in most cases are their own worst enemy. I speak from first hand experience. There should be no Unions in federal jobs. This note from a long time tax payer and voter

Dave Saucier

Employees in the private economy are terminated, not only for poor performance, but also when positions become superfluous, or when financially strapped employers are unable to afford them. If government ran this way, employees could be terminated at will, not simply for inferior performance, but when jobs become unnecessary. I understand that a recently constructed D.C. office building is home for 1300 EPA bureaucrats. What does an environmental civil servant do every day? In my pipe dream, public employee unions would be de-certified, exposing federal workers to the same pressures the rest of us must face for our entire working lives.

Rev. R.S. Helms

Start by draining the SWAMP … and voters to drop the Liberal socialist obstructionists like one of my wife’s hot potatoes. There are so many un-needed over-stuffed agencies and then perhaps Congress could pay back the Social Security and truly put it under private management! Billions of dollars in savings if they would just use common sense control over the size of Government.

Martin Steed

It’s been this way for a long long time. I managed to get a low level employee fired while in uniform back in 1967, but it took me over 6 months. This guy was continually leaving work in the middle of the day. Had he been military, I could have had him punished the next day, but as a civilian employee, I had to keep a journal on him, counsel him on staying at work, have his civilian boss counsel him on staying at work, do written warnings, and only after playing these games for 6 months was the guy fired. His civilian boss offered to have him transferred because it was so much easier but I refused to pass our problem on to somebody else. Nothing new here.

Paul W

Even FDR knew that the formation of public sector unions was a horrible idea.

Joe Walls

Truth finally surfaces and is reported. Retired school teacher and Post Office, for years I witnessed non-productive personnel at these jobs and if anyone tried to do something about it, they were in some way reprimanded. Few times saw some of these individuals dismissed but within a month return to “work” thanks to the union, and with back pay. Pass the bill.


This is what happens when the government is not run like a business. Unions tend to protect bad employees. The swamp needs to be drained starting with the congress.


And of that .53 percent sorry enough to be fired, how many (lately IRS employees) are rehired within a few months?

Bruce Grant Bonaventure

Once Passed, there MUST be strict Enforcement immediately with a systematic removal of existing incompetents that have simply been collecting a Lifetime paycheck for very little productivity,, actually believing that they are ENTITLED………….herein lies a True positive step in Draining the Swamp, because only Competition brings out the Best………. BGB

Frank Stanfield

Congress needs to act swiftly to give managers in federal agencies the authority to dismiss federal workers for documented poor performance. Appeals should go to a review board.


As a 35 yr fed employee for HHS, and one who took her job seriously as a public servant, I am very glad to see that something is being done to eliminate the incompetent employees who “use” the government to benefit themselves and make it difficult for other employees who are utilized to pick up the slack which happens too often to the hard-working, loyal public servants who are overworked to compensate for incompetent employees. These are the ones who fight the “poor” performance ratings if the supervisor has enough guts to deal with giving a poor performance rating, which is rare since you cannot get rid of them. What management does is find a way to transfer the incompetent so they get dumped on another office. This performance system needs to change and the ability to “fire” lazy and/or poor performers will benefit and streamline the govt. BUT, the… Read more »

Pete from St Pete

The system is long broken but any attempt to correct it is staunchly opposed by the Democratic Party that treasures union support at election time more than they do the rest of us.

Dolores Adams

This needs to stop! If they are not doing the job right or are just goofing off, the need to be fired. They are wasting money.


we went thru this in 1984 and longer, with the Teamsters….as non-union carriers opened…we had to clean up bad practices and take a more aggressive stance on discharging those that did not carry their weight. we put in a measuring system that we able to track those that were doing very little….we started at the bottom of the poor performers and worked with on improving production. we also took on absenteeism and errors with a systematic disciplinary program that eventually would lead to discharge if no improvement….We needed to do this to survive in the industry……What bothers me is I competed all my life in the work environment, we served a customer base that was constantly being approached by other carriers. Somehow we need to introduce a competitive environment in our government. PS – we need to get the utilities on this this program…i get on a program to lower… Read more »


Even FDR was against federal employee unions.

Elaine Post

Yes we need a savior in America

Joseph Kiesznoski

Almost as bad as the over paid school teachers.

Cathy Witthoeft

It’s tough. Without union representation, it’s hard to obtain decent pay & benefits. With it, you cannot terminate people from jobs who don’t do their jobs well. I believe we need to arrange for union representation that does not guarantee you will never be terminated for cause. Also, that process needs to be short term or immediate relieving bad employees from access to records, computers, ID, phones, etc.