Federal Managers Exposed
Are you familiar with every civil service law, rule or regulation?
Would you be surprised to learn that federal managers, with exemplary records, pay tens of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to defend themselves in OIG, OSC, OPR and other professional misconduct investigations? When something goes awry, politicians, the media, special interest groups and investigators, start looking for anything that might make a case or a headline. Sometimes, it is the most dedicated and unexpected civil servants that are investigated.
What’s uncovered during these investigations may not even have anything to do with the initial incident, however, the need to assign blame or accountability opens the floodgates for all types of scrutiny at all levels - specifically those in charge - and without the proper legal counsel, you could be served up as the scapegoat.
Most of us don’t realize just how similarly vulnerable we are when the microscope is placed upon us, or our agency or office, and you’d be surprised what an investigator can find. When the Tea Party scandal involving Lois Lerner broke, investigations embroiled managers across the IRS. With ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, the media sensation and scrutiny on both sides of the aisle was so fierce that all the agents and supervisory officials involved sought legal counsel. The performance of VA employees across the country have been put under the microscope after an investigation began into the manipulation of wait times and scheduling at one location. GSA executives with exemplary records, agency wide, were subject to investigations into fraud, waste and abuse and improper expenditure allegations made by some seeking political and personal gain. Employees in the law enforcement and intelligence communities kept attorneys very busy in preparation and defense while under fire by lawmakers and administration figures during the 9/11 commission hearings. While many of the managers and supervisors involved in these investigations, and countless others, were ultimately vindicated, the process of accomplishing such wasn’t cheap. Furthermore, many were shocked by their need for legal counsel as their role in the event or “scandal” was extremely limited or not at all even related to initial allegation or investigation!
How sure are you that your actions or inactions could withstand rigorous scrutiny? For most managers, it is a little shocking to learn how deep and how far back your decisions and actions could come under scrutiny when an investigation commences. For some, the real surprise comes when the extent of the investigation is revealed, or when you find out you could be held accountable for a practice that had been in place for years, or that you are now being investigated for an event or action that didn’t have any direct correlation to the initial allegation. It doesn’t matter if your action was intentional or unintentional, or even standard operating procedure - if the practice you are executing is deemed unacceptable, particularly as a manager or supervisor, you will be held accountable – even if it is a trivial or justifiable violation of agency policy or practice.
The time is now past where the biggest obstacle to purchasing FEDS Professional Liability Insurance is a sense of disbelief that you will ever face an allegation; or need an attorney to defend a work-related act, error or omission; or that an allegation known to be frivolous or untrue, will go away without the need to ever hire an attorney. The reality is…in today’s federal community, federal employees are targeted for various reasons, or used to make examples or as political pawns. And if it happens to be you, it is a nuisance if it’s a small case, or completely overwhelming if it’s a large one.
Attorneys are expensive – FEDS Protection isn’t. Managers are reimbursed up to half the cost of this insurance by the agency for a premium as little as $145 annually after reimbursement. Enrollment takes just 5 minutes - call 866.955.FEDS or visit www.fedsprotection.com.
FEDS provides professional liability insurance for the entire federal management community. For information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects you, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, visit us at fedsprotection.com.
Posted in Manager Matters