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Public Statements

Dr. Coburn Releases Report on AWOL Federal Employees

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Dr. Coburn Releases Report on AWOL Federal Employees
Report Finds Nearly 20 Million Hours Lost Since 2001

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released a report today detailing the rapid growth in the annual number of hours federal employees are found to be absent without leave (AWOL) from their jobs. Since 2001, 18 federal departments and agencies reported that employees have been AWOL for at least 19.6 million hours when they should have otherwise been working.

The investigation found that annual AWOL hours have increased gradually since 2001, climbing from approximately 2.5 million hours per year to 3.5 million hours in 2007. The disturbing findings of this report are an example of inefficiencies in the federal government that would not be tolerated in private companies.

"Everyone knows that rule number one for any job is showing up. No private company would put up with its employees refusing to show up for work, let alone watch the problem grow year after year. These findings are an insult to the American taxpayer and should be of great concern to the agencies included and members of Congress," Coburn said.

Beginning in December 2006, Coburn launched an investigation into the extent to which federal employees fail to show up for work and are thus charged by their agencies with AWOL. Nineteen agencies - including all federal departments and several independent agencies - were asked to provide data for all AWOL hours recorded between 2001-2007.

"It is inexcusable that federal agencies would sit by and let this problem get worse, while some agencies are completely unaware that there even is a problem. Before agencies come hat-in-hand to Congress asking for money to hire more employees, they should fully use the ones they already have by getting the AWOL problem under control. AWOL employees put a hidden tax on the American taxpayer by making the federal government more inefficient with the resources it has been given," Coburn said.

Only the State Department failed to provide any data for this study, citing as a reason that it does not measure AWOL time.

Quick Facts from the Report:

• Since 2001, federal employees at 18 departments and agencies were absent without leave (AWOL) at least 19.6 million hours.

• Annual AWOL hours in 2007 were 45% higher than in 2001.

• Since 2001, nearly 300,000 federal employees have been AWOL for some period of time.

• Since 2001, the government has lost at least 9,410 years of work from AWOL employees.

• Employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs were AWOL 19 times more often than employees at the Department of Defense.

• The Departments of Veterans Affairs and the Treasury - the two worst offenders - accounted for 61% of all AWOL hours between 2001-2007.

• Between 2001 and 2007, 13 of 18 agencies either saw an increase in annual AWOL totals or remained at approximately the same level as before, despite overall decreases in the aggregate number of employees.


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