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Rep. Kelly’s Legislation to Hold Government Employees More Accountable to Taxpayers Passes Committee without Objection
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 Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today without objection by voice vote. Rep. Kelly introduced the Government Employee Accountability Act in the wake of 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 several resignations, including GSA’s top administrator and other high-ranking political appointees. However, one of the GSA officials largely responsible for the lavish conference, Jeff Neely, was 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. Mr. Neely has since resigned and collects a full government pension.
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."
In an effort to increase the mechanisms available to federal agencies and to make sure that SES employees who engage in 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 SES employees, whose misconduct is determined to be serious or flagrant, to be placed on administrative leave without pay, an option the GSA said was unavailable to them in the Jeff Neely case.
Additionally, H.R. 6016 gives the head of an agency the ability to place an SES employee on administrative leave, with pay, for misappropriation of funds, which is currently only available for cases of misconduct, neglect of duty, or malfeasance.
The Government Employee Accountability Act also requires that, following each 2 week period of administrative leave, the agency head must review and submit a report describing the review to OGR. If the end of the 90 day period of administrative leave is reached, the agency must:
- Remove the employee,
- Suspend the employee without pay, or
- Reinstate or restore employee to duty.
The bill maintains existing due process rights.
Rep. Kelly issued the following statement on today’s vote in support of H.R. 6016:
“When someone violates the public trust to the extent that Jeff Neely and others like him have, they sure as heck shouldn’t be collecting pay without even having to clock in. The hardworking people I represent sometimes work two or three jobs just to get by, and that means getting out of bed and getting out of the house. To think that an SES employee under investigation for wrongdoing can play a round of golf or sleep in all day while still getting generously paid is an outrage. H.R. 6016 sends a clear signal to all SES employees that their positions of authority and responsibility are taken seriously by us, the taxpayers, and it should be taken seriously by them as well.”
To read the op-ed Rep. Kelly published on the GSA scandal in May, click here.