I was questioned by the IG office in regards to time card inconsistencies arising from tele-working and not being in my office in August 2016 for a time period going back 16 months. I was accused of not working all my time and improperly submitting my time sheets. I pointed out errors in the data and the interview was terminated. I immediately changed my business practices and ensured I was properly recording my time sheets from then on(recording telework and gym time for all instances). I was re-interviewed in January 2017 for a 4 month period at the end of 2015 to the beginning of 2016. I admitted that I had improperly recorded hours but was adamant that I had worked the hours reported.
In July of 2017, I received a letter from my supervisor recommend my removal based on the fact that over an 11 month period (November 2015 to October 2016) I had over 100 instances of AWOL and Conduct Unbecoming of a Federal Employee (improper recording of time card) totaling 220 hours. I prepared a response accounting for nearly all 220 hours and had a face to face meeting with the deciding official (an SES) and it was mitigated down to a 14 day suspension.
I admitted to him about the improper recording of telework and gym time. He was also aware of a hostile work environment during the same time in question where a division chief was removed and ultimately forced to retire. He stated that he new for fact that I had worked the hours, but as a member of leadership (branch chief) perception was an issue and that a 14 day suspension was appropriate. Additionally, during some of the time in question I was acting division chief and lead the section out the darkness of the previous leadership at one of the busiest times of the year. At the same time, another IG investigation was underway in regards to another branch chief within the division. This was concluded in August 2017 after I had served my suspension.
I received a LOI/SOR in mid-November 2017 for personal conduct. The SOR referenced my recommendation for removal letter and the second IG investigation that stated I knowingly inappropriately approved the other branch chiefs time card during September and October 2016. Neither leadership or myself had seen the results of the second investigation at this time. In early December, I was presented with recommendation of a 30 day suspension for inattention to duty in regards to the other branch chiefs time card. I went through the same process of preparing a response and a face to face discussion. I was able to convince the deciding official (this time a different SES) that the facts did not support the claim. I was told that there would be a Memorandum For Record prepared and that would be the end of it.
When I received the “MFR” it was not a MFR but a letter of warning. I went back to the deciding official and he said that this is what General Counsel told him was the equivalent of an MFR. I reinforced through e-mail that he agreed that I was not found to have committed the charge of inattention to duty and the facts were not accurate in supporting the IG case.
I prepared my response to the SOR within the 60 days I provided in my LOI. I admitted my mistakes and provided information on how I was already preventing any future occurrences. I also included performance reports (overall 5s) and awards (both cash and time off) covering the entire time period. I also included all information and my responses from both IG cases.
Included in the response were character letters from peers and leadership. The deciding official from the first case (SES) wrote a letter on my behalf stating that I had taken corrective actions to prevent the recurrence of the behavior prior to the investigation being concluded. He also reiterated his confidence in me as a leader and this was aberration and that I had not displayed any of the questionable behavior since my initial interview in August 2016. He also stated that I should be able to retain my clearance based on my spotless record prior to the incident and after.
I have been waiting since January 2018 to hear from the CAF. My job has kept me in an unpaid indefinite suspension status while the process is completed. I continue to check every week and the answer I keep receiving is that is in adjudication. The CAF has not reached back to me or my Agency for any additional data. I recently took a job as a government contractor that required a public trust background investigation, which I passed.
What are some of your thoughts on my chances of going back to work?