Demote your way to success

Most people — from movie stars to folks in your carpool — have heard of sleeping your way to the top. It’s been going on since they signed the first contract on the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Maybe before that.

But bullying your way to the bottom? How does that work? Why push the down button on the career elevator?

According to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs, two Washington-based senior executives improperly used their clout to get what amounted to a demotion. Why move down the ladder you ask?

The benefit of the demotion, according to the IG’s report, was that the two career SESers got to keep their Washington pay levels while transferring to lower pressure jobs in places with better cheesesteaks and more winter sports.

The execs moved to regional jobs in Philadelphia and St. Paul, the IG said, where they had family and local ties. After relocating they retained their D.C. based salaries ($181,497 and $173,949).

One exec also got $300,000 in housing and moving reimbursement fees to move from Washington to Philadelphia, a roughly 150 mile drive.

To get the same salary while moving to less stressful jobs, the IG said the two executives  “inappropriately” used their clout to force/persuade regional officials to pave the way for their transfers. That allegedly included pushing an official in the St. Paul regional office out of his job and holding it for the wanna-be-out-of-D.C. official.

The Washington Post quoted VA Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) as saying some VA officials used the relocation expenses program “to enrich themselves.”

As with almost any detailed IG investigation, there is often more (sometimes less) than meets the eye, or cited by Congress or reported by the media.

An official familiar with the operations of the SES said “what they are mixing up … they are throwing in relocation expenses as some kind of gift. It makes it sound like the VA just handed them $300,000 with a ribbon tied around it.  How do I, or anybody else, know they engineered it?  Instead of trying to understand all the facts now it’s just a game of gotcha!”

SEA President Carol Bonosaro said she was  “aware of situations where aspiring executives are told they are welcome to apply for a job (in another city) but are told the agency will not pay relocation.”

That’s unfortunately likely to increase, she said.


Nearly Useless Factoid

By Meredith Somers

In 1998 Philadelphia clinched the title of world’s largest cheesesteak, thanks to a sandwich that measured 365-feet-7-inch long and weighed 1,790 pounds. The title was snatched away in 2011 by a restaurant in Tuscon, Arizona.

Source: Philadelphia Magazine

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