Committee Majority Staff Report Finds Inconsistencies in Federal Penalties for Bad Actors, Including Sexual Misconduct

Published: Oct 19, 2017

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans released a staff report after a year-long investigation into federal agencies use of a Table of Penalties. The report found there is no standardized definition of sexual misconduct or recommended penalties across the federal government.

Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) released the following statement regarding the report:

“Sexual misconduct is a challenge the federal government must aggressively and consistently address to ensure the well-being and safety of its workforce. Employees should feel safe and protected at work. The American people deserve a work force and a work environment reflective of the law, their high standards for appropriate conduct, and conducive with maximum productivity.”

Full text of the report can be found here.

Background:

  • A Table of Penalties is a list of recommended disciplinary actions for various personnel misconduct, ranging from reprimand to removal. Agencies use Tables of Penalties to standardize discipline across an agency.
  • During the 114th Congress the Committee identified examples of unacceptable behavior at federal agencies including: the solicitation of prostitutes while on official business; the sexual harassment of colleagues and interns; and the accessing of pornography during the workday.

Report Findings:

  • Eight agencies have no Table of Penalties, including the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Seven agencies have a Table of Penalties, but do not expressly mention sexual misconduct.
  • Inconsistent and broad disciplinary recommendations put employees at risk of arbitrary discipline.
  • Guidance for discipline of sexual misconduct varies from agency to agency.
  • Some agencies differentiate punishments for supervisors and non-supervisors.
  • Many agency Tables are significantly outdated.

Report Recommendations:

  • All agencies should ensure cases of sexual misconduct are properly documented and tracked.
  • OPM should create a nature of offenses list for sexual misconduct that is detailed and comprehensive to the extent practical.
  • Agencies without a Table of Penalties should create one.
  • Agencies should update their Tables of Penalties regularly to ensure up-to-date information is considered.
  • Agencies should ensure supervisors and employees are aware of applicable agency Tables to increase adherence to recommended discipline.

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Related Documents

Name Document
Tables of Penalties Report Document