Nine Census Bureau Employees Each Charged for 100 Days of Work they didn’t Do

Sunday, September 20, 2015
(photo: Getty Images)

The Census Hiring and Employment Check (CHEC) Office is the group that screens and performs background checks on those applying to work for the Census Bureau, either as employees or contractors. But an investigation shows that the checkers could have used some checking themselves.


The Commerce Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reports (pdf) that some CHEC employees have been defrauding the government by reporting incorrect time and attendance information.


The OIG looked at records for 40 CHEC employees from January 1, 2010 to September 20, 2014. It found a discrepancy of 19,162 hours, or 2,395 eight-hour workdays, between reported working time and actual time worked.


Other findings by the OIG:


--Nine CHEC employees submitted records for at least 100 days’ worth of work they didn’t do.

--One employee was paid for 160 days of work he didn’t perform.

--The lost time and attendance by CHEC employees cost taxpayers about $1.1 million.

--At least two contractors inflated their hours, with one billing CHEC for 361 hours not worked at a cost to taxpayers of $32,217.11.

--One employee spent much of his time trying to get friends and relatives on the office’s payroll.

--Another employee was found to be having a sexual interaction with an applicant for whom the employee was involved in the background check.


The investigation began as a whistleblower complaint to OIG. It revealed that one employee, upon learning of the probe, began to make general threats in the office about the still-anonymous whistleblower. Those included announcing that the whistleblower had better “watch out;” threats of a lawsuit against the whistleblower; and brandishing a knife during an office cake party and saying “this is for who went to OIG!”


The OIG sent its findings to the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s office, but officials there declined to prosecute the case.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Summary of Investigative Report 14-0790 (Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce) (pdf)

Allegations of Time and Attendance Fraud and Other Misconduct by Employees in the Census Hiring and Employment Check Office (Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce) (pdf)


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