If any of us openly blew off the request from a boss, we wouldn’t be employed very long. However, all normal rules of workplace hierarchy and response gets thrown out the window when it comes to federal agencies and the politicians Americans voted for to oversee them.
Maybe that’s the problem: politicians are considered temporary, federal employees are lifers and they’re perfectly comfortable reminding the elected of their place. The phrase “I don’t know” has been replaced by employees routinely telling oversight congressmen what they won’t do.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) got into a heated spat over the whereabouts of Hunter Biden’s laptop during a House Judiciary hearing on oversight of the FBI’s Cyber Division on Tuesday. The Republican firebrand used his allotted time to grill the division’s assistant director Bryan Vorndran, who repeatedly told Gaetz he didn’t have any information on where the hard drive belonging to President Joe Biden’s son is currently located.
‘Sir, I’m not here to talk about the laptop. I’m here to talk about the FBI’s cyber program,’ Vorndran told Gaetz after the lawmaker asked where it was.
— Daily Mail, 3/29/22
People who are well-paid, if not overpaid, with dollars taxpayers should cough up documents formally requested within a reasonable amount of time and if they’re summoned to appear at a hearing, should be prepared to truthfully answer any question posed to them. If they can’t (or won’t), they should have to clear out their desk and find a job in the real world where the rules are very different.
§192. Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers
Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.
Seeing how the average federal employee salary is $90,510, these fines are pretty low. Hopefully a future Congress will one day make it hurt a lot more if they publicly say “no” to the boss. That could do a lot to assure the public that those whom they keep well fed will not only do their jobs but also can be truly held responsible for their performance.