Rep. Kelly’s Bi-Partisan Legislation to Hold Government Employees More Accountable to Taxpayers Passes the House

Dec 19, 2012 Issues: Government Oversight and Reform



Contact: Julia Thornton

December 19, 2012



Rep. Kelly’s Bi-Partisan Legislation to Hold Government Employees More Accountable to Taxpayers Passes the House


Washington, DC — A bill introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03), titled The Government Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 6016), passed the House of Representatives today with bipartisan supportby a vote of 402 to 2.  Rep. Kelly introduced the Government Employee Accountability Act in response to the public outrage over the General Services Administration (GSA) Las Vegas conference scandal, in which nearly a million taxpayer dollars were spent, in part, on clowns, mind readers, and expensive food and drink.

The scandal forced the resignations of several high-ranking political appointees, including GSA’s top administrator, Martha N. Johnson, who called the Las Vegas conference a “raucous, extravagant, arrogant, self-congratulatory event that ultimately belittled federal workers.” However, one of the GSA officials largely responsible for the lavish conference, Jeff Neely, did not initially resign and was instead put on paid administrative leave. Mr. Neely, who has a history of wasteful spending, was a career Senior Executive Service (SES) civil servant making roughly $180,000 a year. While Mr. Neely was placed on paid leave between April 16 to May 24, he collected more than $15,000.

Once Mr. Neely was put on paid leave, Rep. Kelly reached out to the GSA to see why Mr. Neely was still collecting a paycheck despite his significant role in the scandal. The official GSA response to Rep. Kelly’s inquiry was, “there are no mechanisms available to GSA to remove the individuals from the payroll while the disciplinary process progresses." Mr. Neely eventually resigned and now collects a full government pension.

In an effort to increase the mechanisms available to federal agencies and to make sure that SES employees who engage in serious or flagrant misconduct are held to the highest account, H.R. 6016 provides agency heads additional tools to use when senior executives have engaged in misappropriation of funds, misconduct, neglect of duty, or malfeasance.

Specifically, H.R. 6016 adds the option for agencies investigating SES employees for such misconduct to be placed on “investigative leave” with or without pay, an option the GSA said was unavailable to them in the Jeff Neely case.

The Government Employee Accountability Act requires that after the SES employee has been put on either paid or unpaid investigative leave, a period which cannot exceed 180 days and which requires the agency to periodically report to Congress, the agency must:

  • Remove the employee
  • Suspend the employee, or
  • Reinstate or restore employee to duty.

The bill maintains existing due process rights.

Rep. Kelly issued the following statement on the House passage of H.R. 6016:

“Members of the Senior Executive Service are some of the highest paid, highest ranking employees within the federal government. With that considerable authority comes an expectation that they will fulfill their duties with the utmost respect for the taxpayers they serve and with a level of professionalism that the American people demand.

“The Government Employee Accountability Act was created in response to my constituents who simply asked, ‘How can a federal employee who was largely responsible for a notorious government spending scandal still be able to collect pay even though he’s not showing up for work?’ The answer, disappointingly to many, was that the federal agency had no other choice.

“The Government Employee Accountability Act gives agency heads more choices when handling cases of misconduct among SES employees, and gives the American people the reassurance that when serious and flagrant abuses occur, there will be accountability and more options will be on table.”

To read the op-ed Rep. Kelly published on the GSA scandal in May, click here.