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Why Are So Many Federal Workers Tax Cheats?

From the Chairman’s Blog at Gallup:

Why Too Many U.S. Federal Employees Are Tax Cheats and Rule Breakers

By Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton | Monday, August 6, 2012

The House of Representatives passed a bill last Tuesday that would fire federal employees who’ve been seriously delinquent in paying their taxes. They did this because almost 100,000 federal workers are behind on their taxes, including 700 congressional employees. These workers owed more than $1 billion in unpaid taxes 2010, up from just under $600 million in 2004, according to the Internal Revenue Service. We could charitably call these folks “rule breakers.”

Of course, we’ve also learned recently that there’s been significant rule breaking in the General Services Administration (lavish conferences and now word of excessive bonuses) and the Secret Service (the prostitution scandal in Colombia). Combined, the problems of tax evasion and rule breaking generally point to deep ethical issues in the federal workplace.

The federal government really needs to know what Gallup knows: Rule breaking is very predictable. The more disengaged the workplace, the more employees will break rules. And according to Gallup’s 12-question employee engagement survey (Q12), U.S. government workers are mostly not engaged (52%) or are actively disengaged (18%).

Which means only 30% are engaged.

Now, it may surprise many government leaders to learn that generous pay and benefits don’t predict a great workplace. Federal workers are generally well compensated and receive more vacation days and better healthcare and retirement packages than many private sector employees — yet they remain disengaged and work within a growing culture of rule breaking.

Bluntly, incidents of rule breaking, and now serious tax evasion, by federal employees will never get fixed until the government creates an engaged workplace with engaged employees. The government’s biggest problem right now is failed management practices, pure and simple.

A fair question to ask: Why wouldn’t the federal government be the best managed workforce in the world? It has more potential than most other workplaces — not only very good pay and benefits, but also a rich mission and purpose. What if federal managers suddenly attacked the problem of employee disengagement, turned it around, and transformed their workplaces into the best in the world? This would do more than anything else to restore honesty and integrity — not to mention high levels of productivity — to the U.S. government.

All of which is pretty laughable, until you realize that they are now in charge of our healthcare.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Why Are So Many Federal Workers Tax Cheats?”

  1. River0 says:

    There’s an old saying that “Fish rots from the head down”, meaning that the example set by a nation’s leaders is imitated by the people as a whole. The lawlessness and corruption we see in our town halls, state capitols, and Washington has metastasized throughout the whole nation.

  2. Helena says:

    Why? Let’s see… because they don’t really do anything but shuffle paper? They’re not responsible for showing a profit? They can’t be fired? Nobody around them does anything, is responsible for anything, or can be fired?… Maybe?

    • njyankee says:

      “They can’t be fired?”

      That’s it in a nutshell. For example, let’s say you’re in college and you’re taking a class where the teacher guarantees you an “A” no matter what you do. How much effort would you put in? How engaged would you be? If there’s no fear of failure (or getting fired) a lot of the incentive to succeed is gone. One would hope that a sense of personal pride would get them to do their job well but we all know that that’s a pipe dream.

  3. GetBackJack says:

    They work for the Fed … the #1 Crime Family Syndicate in the world


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