Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, August 01, 2014

Dozens of federal employees at an obscure agency that handles appeals of patent applications went years with so little work to do that they collected salaries -- and even bonuses -- while they surfed the Internet, did laundry, exercised and watched television, an investigation has found. The employees, paralegals making $60,000 to $80,000 a year, were idle with full knowledge of their immediate bosses and multiple layers of managers and judges who "sat on their hands" waiting for work to give them, a year-long probe by the Commerce Department inspector general's office uncovered. "It's one thing to have idle workers," Inspector General Todd Zinser said, "but in addition to being idle, they received outstanding performance ratings."

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A gleaming example of government efficiency.

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Admin's note: Participants in this discussion must follow the site's moderation policy. Profanity will be filtered. Abusive conduct is not allowed.

it gets worse. i know these things.

#1 | Posted by DeadSpin at 2014-08-01 11:48 AM | Reply | Flag:

Government can't prune itself..... this is the fundamental flaw with the power of "taxation", not that "taxation" is bad in small doses, but when a government taxes without the ability to prune.

The taxation gets heavier, and the work gets lighter. Why do you job, what are they going to do fire you?

#2 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2014-08-01 12:23 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

"paralegals making $60,000 to $80,000 a year,"

It's a pity Joe never found out about this.

#3 | Posted by Harry_Powell at 2014-08-01 12:27 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 2

Sounds like a contract I had where I spent almost a year as a program release steward doing that for a fortune 100 company.

Wasn't allowed to do any coding and the program specs constantly changed so they were never in a release stage.

I sat and did nothing but read books and browse the internet, people even complained to management about it. They told me to occasionally leave me desk and read in the cafeteria to cut down the grumbling.

Go figure.

#4 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-08-01 01:30 PM | Reply | Flag:

Top managers at government agencies have an incentive to protect their power by spending their entire budget. If they cut back because there wasn't enough work to go around, they'd diminish their own importance.

I wonder if there's a way to give agencies a financial incentives to find and identify waste, such as paying an employee or manager a small percentage of the money saved in the first year.

#5 | Posted by rcade at 2014-08-01 02:27 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

I wonder if there's a way to give agencies a financial incentives to find and identify waste, such as paying an employee or manager a small percentage of the money saved in the first year.

#5 | Posted by rcade

Keep pushing that idea! I have been pushing it for decades. The whole Federal budgeting process leaves a lot to be desired. The incentive should be to return as much money as possible. Not spend as much money as possible. There are not enough incentives to save. Plenty to spend. In fact, managers actually get dinged for not spending all their budgets by the end of the fiscal year. Like it is some kind of crime to save money and give it back.

Stupid. Silly. Dumb.

#6 | Posted by donnerboy at 2014-08-01 03:57 PM | Reply | Flag:

I think it would be a huge improvement if everyone in the Federal Government would just collect their pay and do nothing. That would limit the damage to the economy to only their salaries and benefits.

#7 | Posted by visitor_ at 2014-08-01 04:36 PM | Reply | Flag:

Like a candle in the wind compared to the Iraq War ($5 trillion over time) which is only a third of the Banker's bailout ($17 trillion and counting).

#8 | Posted by nutcase at 2014-08-01 04:41 PM | Reply | Flag:

Doing nothing all day is what purgatory must be like.

#9 | Posted by nutcase at 2014-08-01 04:48 PM | Reply | Flag:

"I wonder if there's a way to give agencies a financial incentives to find and identify waste, such as paying an employee or manager a small percentage of the money saved in the first year."

This particular agency should ALSO be approving patents, not just handling appeals. There is always a backup of patent applications.

I always though there should be a way to split the difference on budget under-spending. Like they should get to put half of the savings on the next year's budget and the other half actually gets "saved."

There is frequently a race at the end of the year to spend left-over money, though I think many times that happens because lazy people don't do things they are supposed to do until the last minute.

#10 | Posted by LEgregius at 2014-08-01 05:02 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Dozens of federal employees"

Sounds like they were living like the jerks that own walmart and doing less damage.

#11 | Posted by Tor at 2014-08-01 05:10 PM | Reply | Flag:

Sounds like they were living like the jerks that own walmart and doing less damage.

#11 | POSTED BY TOR AT 2014-08-01 05:10 PM | REPLY | FLAG:


Creating a business that created hundreds of thousands of jobs and made several thousand middle class citizens into millionaires is bad thing to a warped mind whose list of accomplishments could fit on a postage stamp.

#12 | Posted by RobThomas at 2014-08-01 05:19 PM | Reply | Flag:

I had friends at the local university that would make absolutely sure they spent the entire budget at the end of the year. If they didn't, two things would happen: 1) they'd lose the money that was budgeted to them for that year and they didn't spend, and 2) they would have their budget cut for the next year because they didn't use it all.

#13 | Posted by hawk at 2014-08-01 05:21 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Creating a business that created hundreds of thousands of jobs and made several thousand middle class citizens into millionaires is bad thing"

At the cost of ruining small business America and small towns and corporatizing and strip malling the entire country. Screw Walmart. I hope they die, soon.

#14 | Posted by nullifidian at 2014-08-01 05:24 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 2

I think it would be a huge improvement if everyone in the Federal Government would just collect their pay and do nothing.

Sounds like congress.

#15 | Posted by lee_the_agent at 2014-08-01 05:27 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Creating a business"

Rob not one of them created walmart.

Sam Walton has been dead for years same as his wife.

#16 | Posted by Tor at 2014-08-01 05:33 PM | Reply | Flag:

At the cost of ruining small business America and small towns and corporatizing and strip malling the entire country. Screw Walmart. I hope they die, soon.

#14 | POSTED BY NULLIFIDIAN AT 2014-08-01 05:24 PM | REPLY | FLAG:

The warped mind is full of fabrications and illusions. And sickness.

#17 | Posted by RobThomas at 2014-08-01 05:34 PM | Reply | Flag:

Sam Walton has been dead for years same as his wife.

#16 | POSTED BY TOR AT 2014-08-01 05:33 PM | REPLY | FLAG:

His son runs the show. Your envy is sad.

#18 | Posted by RobThomas at 2014-08-01 05:36 PM | Reply | Flag:

At the cost of ruining small business America and small towns and corporatizing and strip malling the entire country. Screw Walmart. I hope they die, soon.

#14 | POSTED BY NULLIFIDIAN AT 2014-08-01 05:24 PM | FLAG: | NEWSWORTHY 1

Newsworthly to a worthless fool.

#19 | Posted by RobThomas at 2014-08-01 05:38 PM | Reply | Flag:

That was rob the -----. This current rob is from matchbox 20. His mom is the 3am girl.

#21 | Posted by 101Chairborne at 2014-08-01 05:45 PM | Reply | Flag:

I wonder if private industry, business, or the military have people that make that much but don't do anything?

Oops... can't include the military since they are all government workers.

#22 | Posted by REDIAL at 2014-08-01 06:49 PM | Reply | Flag:

Like this doesn't happen in the private sector...

#23 | Posted by snoofy at 2014-08-01 06:55 PM | Reply | Flag:

That reminds me of a job I had working in the accounting department of a large supermarket. There wasn't enough work to keep me busy, so my boss told me to move papers around on my desk and pretend I had work. Instead, with his permission, I would go to other departments on the same floor and let them know I was willing to help them, even doing the boring work nobody else liked. Of course they eagerly handed those job to me, and both they and I were happy for a year or so.

I learned after I left to return to school and learn a new trade that two, count them two, people were hired to do my old job just in the accounting department. I wonder if those two eventually went on to work in one of those government agencies or maybe even work in Congress. Just a thought!

#24 | Posted by Judity at 2014-08-01 07:16 PM | Reply | Flag:

#22 | POSTED BY REDIAL

Company I contracted with for 3 years had so many people doing the same job (and badly) that they may as well have been painting rocks.

#25 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-08-01 07:30 PM | Reply | Flag:

I have had a couple of "due nothing" or almost nothing, private sector jobs. The hours just drag-by. The boredom and monotony was so bad that I quit to work for less money.

#26 | Posted by SammyAZ_RI at 2014-08-01 07:34 PM | Reply | Flag:

God bless whistle blowers and damn the politicians who hate being exposed.

#27 | Posted by Robson at 2014-08-01 07:52 PM | Reply | Flag:

The only job I had which was anything like this was when I worked as a role player on a military base.

#28 | Posted by sentinel at 2014-08-01 09:26 PM | Reply | Flag:

I heard there was no work in Butte, so I went there--Utah Phillips

#29 | Posted by badgerwest at 2014-08-01 10:06 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 1

"His son runs the show. Your envy is sad."

Gosh you mean someone who didn't create the business now runs it?

#30 | Posted by Tor at 2014-08-02 12:06 AM | Reply | Flag:

Private sector is Just as bad.I once made 30k over 2 month period in 1988 for KBR reading Steven King Novels.

#31 | Posted by Scotty at 2014-08-02 01:53 AM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

Re #31 - I get your drift, but the difference is that government workers are working off taxpayers dollars with usually great benefits, and maybe pensions, and are supposed to be working for the good of the public. There is a big difference.

#32 | Posted by danv at 2014-08-02 01:57 AM | Reply | Flag:

#32 | POSTED BY DANV

The point trying to be made is that the private sector "saviours", especially service based where a product of labor isn't easily measured like with manufacturing, have the same problems.

I just deleted the wall of text I was about to post outlining how bad the vaunted private sector can be, but let me just boil it down to a few lines.

Management is usually a joke, office politics is about the only job they do, and many do it very well, and after working on a project that wasted 10 million on 16 contractors who, for two years, produced nothing except for a process we ended up scrapping because it was literally busy work.

The Private sector isn't any better than Govt, it's a layer system that rewards the incompetent who then need to hire others to do the actual work so they can fill out the paperwork to prove what a great job they're doing.

Once in a while you'll find a pocket here or there that have their --- together, but they are few and far between.

#33 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-08-02 05:34 AM | Reply | Flag:

The Private sector isn't any better than Govt, it's a layer system that rewards the incompetent who then need to hire others to do the actual work so they can fill out the paperwork to prove what a great job they're doing. - LoHocla

Its is incredibly better, because eventually when the incompetence of the whole company reaches a certain level, the company is pruned. The weak are lets go, laidoff. In your example the gov't would have kept that project going and probably have gotten bigger, because you don't get more money without spending it.

Having worked at CalTran in the audits office, and 30years in the private sector for startups and multi-national corporations, the differences in management is huge.

I am not saying waste doesn't happen, but it doesn't happen long. Or it only happens when its going well, but once the company makes has a down qtr, the waste is cut back quickly.

I have never been at a company where they didn't prune. The gov't will never prune, and/or do so sparingly, it goes into debt and/or raises its prices(taxes) which are enforced by law.

#34 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2014-08-02 05:50 AM | Reply | Flag:

A word of warning:

A 'fix' to this issue that is poorly thought out could impact groups such as on-duty firefighters between calls (Yes, they do stuff between calls, but its pretty limited what they can do, because the whole point is that they are waiting for calls).

Doing nothing for actual lack of demand for work is bad.

Doing nothing (or make work) on jobs where such is EXPECTED, is NOT bad.

#35 | Posted by USAF242 at 2014-08-02 08:22 AM | Reply | Flag:

I had one job where I did nothing all day. It was horrible. I spent most of the time on the computer applying for other jobs.

Best was one job in a call center that was always slammed one holiday weekend management thought it would be busy and offered a bunch of us OT and holiday pay to work it. There were 20-40 min. between calls all day long. We were walking around chatting just having a ton of fun. Local management wanted to send all of us getting 2.5x pay home, but corporate said no this will be busy keep them. So I did maybe an hour of work in an 8 hour shift and made 35 bucks an hour.

#36 | Posted by TaoWarrior at 2014-08-02 08:24 AM | Reply | Flag:

#34 | POSTED BY ANDREAMACKRIS

You're correct that they do eventually prune, but unfortunately, when they do, the deadweight rarely goes, they get rid of the SME's and then have to play catch-up. Also, once enough money is sunk into a project, it takes someone really high up to address the issue and the bigger the company the longer that takes.

#37 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-08-02 08:48 AM | Reply | Flag:

Btw, this project I was on started in April 2009 and was expected to take 3 years.

5 years later is still doing the same thing and there's no indication that it will end. Eventually it'll collapse sure, but til then everyone is collecting a paycheck for crap work.

#38 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-08-02 08:51 AM | Reply | Flag:

This isn't a government problem. This is a Bureaucratic problem. When a bureaucracy, either government or corporate, gets too large, you will see a LOT of waste. Get over it.

#39 | Posted by Sycophant at 2014-08-02 03:57 PM | Reply | Flag:

The Private sector isn't any better than Govt, it's a layer system that rewards the incompetent who then need to hire others to do the actual work so they can fill out the paperwork to prove what a great job they're doing

#33 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-08-02 05:34 AM | Reply | Flag

Yeah google, apple, target, walmart and the tens of thousand of other businesses in America are just full of lazy people and inept management. Because you have visited them all, you know how they all run. You really on confused and ignorant.

Communism doesn't work, it has been tried over and over again.

This isn't a government problem. This is a Bureaucratic problem. When a bureaucracy, either government or corporate, gets too large, you will see a LOT of waste. Get over it.
#39 | Posted by Sycophant at 2014-08-02 03:57 PM | Reply | Flag:

Big difference when a business gets overly bureaucratic versus a business. The business can fail, be restructured, improved...when governments fails people die, civil wars are fought, peoples rights are infringed. Get a clue

#40 | Posted by danv at 2014-08-02 07:23 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

one last note to all you commies out there.

I don't shop at wal-mart, i don't like it. But they don't threaten my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness ifs I choose not to spend my money there. On the other hand, government take taxes out of my paycheck before I even have a chance to use it and if somehow I can get around not paying them; I can go to jail. BIG FRAKKIN DIFFERENCE!

#41 | Posted by danv at 2014-08-02 07:32 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

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