If it's the Federal Government, employees include informants and whistleblowers who remain anonymous due to their intentionally secret lifestyle as a consequence of their spy status.
|Something doesn't smell right...|
And because they're so secret, the government doesn't even know how much, or for how long, some of these informants receive compensation under the Federal Employees Compensation Act because no one keeps any records - these people are, after all, confidential sources.
An audit report released yesterday by the Office of the Inspector General, the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice says informants working with the Drug Enforcement Agency also get federal employee workers' compensation and death benefits without any oversight or review, according to a story published this in this morning's issue of WorkCompCentral News.
The OIG report says the DEA has been using FECA to pay informants for more than 30 years, but the cost is unknown because there are only a handful of records for any of the claims.
The report references a DEA manual that states FECA pays benefits when a confidential source is injured or killed as a result of cooperating with the agency. The manual references another DEA document that says non-federal law enforcement officers injured or killed while apprehending someone who committed a federal crime are covered by FECA and suggests this also applies to informants.
The DEA cites United States Code Title 21, Section 886 as the basis for allowing informants to collect comp benefits. But that section simply authorizes the attorney general to pay confidential sources out of DEA funds. It has no relationship to FECA, according to the OIG.
"In our view, 21 U.S.C. 886 does not provide a legal basis for the DEA's position that its confidential sources were appropriately categorized as non-federal law enforcement officers eligible for FECA benefits," the audit says.
After reviewing a draft of the audit report, the DEA said U.S. Code Chapter 5, Section 8101(1)(B) extends FECA benefits to any person working with the federal government and performing jobs similar to what another federal worker might do.
Regardless of whether this section does, in fact, allow the DEA to qualify informants for federal workers' compensation benefits, the OIG said, it is not the legal basis the agency cites in its own policy documents. The agency needs to consult with the Department of Justice "to come to a conclusion about whether there is a legal basis and, if so, whether it is appropriate to extend eligibility for FECA benefits to confidential sources," the audit says.
The extent of confidentiality of this program is highlighted by sources cited in the report who said they don't keep any files on these cases. They rely on the Department of Labor to manage and administer the claims. But the DoL likewise handles confidential cases differently, and likewise keeps nearly zero records on them, so there is no audit trail, no accounting for the cost, no accountability, period.
What OIG has uncovered is alarming. The report cites investigative cases uncovering millions of dollars paid by the DEA to informants for things like housing, while the informant also collects monthly FECA payments.
The DEA in response to a 2005 audit said confidential sources are not "choir boys" and the DEA sometimes has to rely on information from people whose credibility is questionable.
"Therefore, when the DEA submits an application for a confidential source to receive FECA benefits, we believe that the DEA should employ appropriate oversight and evaluate these cases thoroughly," OIG said. "Although the identity of the claimants may be sensitive, this does not alleviate the DEA's responsibility to be judicious stewards of taxpayer dollars and ensure that payments are warranted."
As you might expect on something as embarrassing and culpable as this is, WorkCompCentral's calls to the DEA's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs were not returned Tuesday.