The Perfect Storm for Federal Executives
What would you do with $20,000, $50,000, $100,000 or even $200,000? The answer to this question is probably pretty similar amongst most readers…pay bills, go on vacation, buy a big boat.
Would you be surprised to learn that federal executives, with exemplary records, could pay this much or more should they become the target of an investigation resulting
from a political probe? The time of increased political agendas and lobbying efforts impacting the federal government and its employees is upon us creating the perfect storm for federal executives and increasing the exposure to Inspector General Investigations, Congressional Oversight Investigations and Hearings, Internal Disciplinary Boards, Office of Special Counsel Investigations and Disciplinary Actions.
Most of us don’t realize just how similarly vulnerable we are when it comes to political agendas – and how just perceiving that that an agency or employee did something wrong could result in very serious allegations and investigations. When the microscope is placed upon you or your agency or office, you’d be surprised what an investigator can find. When the Tea Party scandal involving Lois Lerner broke, investigations embroiled executives 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 executives 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 executives 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 related to initial allegation or investigation.
When something goes awry, politicians, the media, special interest groups and investigators, start looking for anything that might make a ca
se 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. It has happened to fellow SEA members.
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. Federal executives are at risk simply because there is an overwhelming need to have someone held accountable. The stakes are even higher when there is financial loss, injury, loss of life, or politicization. Media attention creates the spotlight, but it’s the agency that needs to assess accountability- often pointing fingers at the career executives.
If you are directly accused of wrongdoing, particularly in an OIG or internal management investigation into allegations of wrongdoing, you will not be assigned an agency attorney. It can easily cost $10,000 to $25,000 to defend yourself in an OIG, OSC, EEO, Congressional, or management investigation. Plan on paying at least $30,000 to $200,000 to take your case through the MSPB if you become the subject of a disciplinary action after the investigation concludes. Most of us simply don’t have this kind of money to pay an attorney. We can, however, find $145 a year, or $12 a month, to pay the professional liability insurance bill so we have an attorney to defend our job related acts, errors and omissions.
Those SEA and FEDS members who became embroiled in the complexities of the federal legal investigative process, even though innocent, were thankful they had the foresight to purchase a professional liability policy. Other important facts you should know about FEDS Protection:
- Did you know that FEDS does not charge you an additional $100 or more to cover allegations of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and alleged whistleblower reprisal? The FEDS policy automatically includes coverage for EEO and OSC type claims, at no additional premium, because this is the very reason most managers purchase – and use – the policy. In what may become a super-charged environment, an agency attorney may be assigned to assist you in the EEO or OSC investigation, but you should know that this attorney represents the government’s interests, not yours as an individual employee, and the agency attorney may advance a position adverse to your own.
- Did you know FEDS is veteran owned and US based with benefits secured by a US based carrier? It is critical for you, as a federal employee, to know who has access to your personal and professional information.
- Did you know one of the reasons FEDS is endorsed by SEA is due to commitment and know how? FEDS founder is a former federal attorney who understands how very critical it is to have experienced, tenacious, and objective legal counsel when defending sensitive matters involving federal employees. FEDS nationally recognized panels of attorneys is led by Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C. (SB&R), whose vast amount of experience and expertise are necessary to best defend claims involving the unique exposures of federal employees.
The biggest obstacle of members in purchasing 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 hire an attorney. You are not immune to allegations of wrongdoing, regardless of your past performance.
Call 866.955.FEDS or visit fedsprotection.com. Agencies reimburse up to half the cost of this insurance for a reason. Take advantage of this benefit - and don’t forget to enter your member discount code “SEA” when prompted.
You must have coverage in place prior to an incident or claim or COVERAGE WILL NOT APPLY!
To return to the newsletter page, click here.