Weather Service Financial Officer Created Post-Retirement Job for Himself that Allowed Him to be Paid more to do the Same Work

Monday, June 08, 2015
(photo illustration: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Double-dipping, the practice of collecting a government pension while continuing to draw a salary, is fairly common, particularly among retired military personnel. But a Weather Service official took the practice to new levels when he actually wrote his own job description and filled it himself—the day after he retired, according to a report (pdf) from the Commerce Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

 

When P. Donald Jiron announced his retirement as deputy chief financial officer for the Weather Service, his supervisor asked him to remain as a consultant for a time. Jiron agreed, but demanded what became a $3,600 monthly raise, as well as a housing allowance that ended up costing the agency more than $50,000.

 

The supervisor agreed, and Jiron began his new career as a consultant doing the same thing he had as a government employee.

 

This kind of arrangement is apparently common in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Weather Service’s parent agency. The IG’s report said: “For example, one of the highest-ranking NWS leadership officials wondered aloud during her OIG interview “why we have all these people that retire and then we go and hire them to come back.” Similarly, in his interview with the OIG, the (Acquisition and Grants) Representative who facilitated Senior Official’s consulting arrangement opined that NOAA employees returning as contractors once they retire “happens all the time.”

 

Jiron’s name was not mentioned in the report, but The Washington Post reported that he was identified by government officials as the subject of the investigation.

 

While a consultant, Jiron attempted—unsuccessfully—to have his daughter hired by the Weather Service, evading the normal hiring process. Jiron was fired 21 months after starting his consulting career, but made $471,875.34 on top of his government pension.

 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, blasted the arrangement. “It is shameful that some federal employees choose to abuse their authority for selfish gain. This type of behavior casts a shadow on the thousands of federal employees who work hard every day to honorably serve the American people. It is important to root out these bad apples and hold them accountable for their misconduct.”

 

The IG recommended that Jiron be prosecuted, but no action was taken. Jiron’s lawyers say the deal was approved by the proper authorities within NOAA and their client did nothing wrong.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Top Weather Service Official Creates Consulting Job — Then Takes It Himself With $43,200 Raise, Watchdog Says (by Lisa Rein, Washington Post)

Investigation into Alleged Contracting Misconduct and Exertion of Improper Influence Involving a Senior National Weather Service Official (Office of the Inspector General, Department of Commerce) (pdf)

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