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Friday, January 21, 2005

Federal Agencies Filled With Holders of Store Bought Diplomas

Story here of how federal civil servants and appointees have gotten hired and promoted based on store-bought diplomas. GAO Report here; Office of Personnel Managment press release here.  [Jack Chin]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2005/01/federal_agencie.html

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» Government employees used diploma mills? from LUX.ET.UMBRA
Diploma mills? Government? Should I be scared? And I thought I was a slacker in college. Agencies tasked with defending America from terrorism were among the top employers of workers with phony diplomas identified by the GAO. The Department of... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 21, 2005 12:20:49 AM

» Unelected bureaucrats--don't act so surprised from INCITE
Guess what? Thousands of American federal bureaucrats, many of them in highly important and/or sensitive positions, received their degrees from buy-a-diploma unaccredited schools. Three cheers for Big Government! [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 21, 2005 10:26:36 AM

» POLITICS: Not Good Enough For Government Work from Baseball Crank
This story about federal employees with diplomas from bogus colleges is just amazing - although in one sense the story about Laura Callahan does suggest that the Clinton White House's claims of computer incompetence may have been genuine after all.... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 22, 2005 8:37:27 AM

Comments

Has this made any difference in the efficiency and output of the Federal Government? My guess is no.

You know who should be really worried about this? Colleges and Universities with their expensive educations.

Posted by: Jabba the Tutt | Jan 21, 2005 7:05:19 AM

So, after actually reading the GAO report you linked to, I discovered that 463 people either had, or were enrolled to get, bogus degrees, and that 28 senior personnel at the 8 Departmental entities reviewed (comprising the bulk of federal employees from mammoths DOD, DHS, HHS and Postal) had such degrees.

So, if the ranks are filled with scam artists, we've got a modest federal gubmint indeed. Never in my wildest fantasies of Republican government-shrinkage, had I ever imagined that the federal government could be filled with merely 491 employees. Here I was, thinking the fed gov had nearly two billion employees. Well, gosh golly, Mr. Bush sure has done a good job of downsizing government. And look on the positive side of the coin. With the ranks absolutely filled with people who have phony degrees, Mr. Bush should be able to recognize some further savings by imposing pay cuts.

Whoda thunkit? I guess it's true what they say - where there's a little smoke, there's a RAGING INFERNO! EVERYBODY RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

Posted by: Al Maviva | Jan 21, 2005 7:44:40 AM

What's the problem? If having a degree is important to having a career then these people have obtained one very efficiently. The fact that the degree adds nothing to their job performance would be important only if they were evaluated on that performance instead of what hoops they'd jumped through.

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock | Jan 21, 2005 7:59:07 AM

Wow.

The diffidence reflected by the comments is almost as shocking as the act itself. Would you feel the same way if the anesthesiologist for your appendectomy was similarly credentialed?

It isn't the slight proportion of "milled" government employees that concerns me. It isn't that they haven't yet screwed up in any major way. One day, some critical responsibility for our country's safety will be in the hands of someone who isn't properly trained to do what is necessary. Ask yourselves then if you feel this is an irrelevant issue.

Posted by: Gumbi Dammit | Jan 21, 2005 10:33:00 AM

"One day, some critical responsibility for our country's safety will be in the hands of someone who isn't properly trained to do what is necessary."

You mean like Representatives and Senators? ;-)
The dirty little secret about employment is that most jobs (excepting those requiring specialist vocational skills such as engineering or medicine) can be performed perfectly satisfactorily by someone having what used to be called a "good high school education." The "proper training" comes from experience, and as part of the job itself, not from earning a B.A. in English Literature (though there's nothing wrong in having done so).

I am especially *NOT* bothered by people who have achieved promotion. If we assume the entire system isn't corrupt (if it is, we have a more serious problem than fake credentials), then at least some of these people managed to exceed expectations in doing the job they were hired for.

Posted by: Old Grouch | Jan 21, 2005 11:21:27 AM

Old Grouch:

"I am especially *NOT* bothered by people who have achieved promotion. If we assume the entire system isn't corrupt (if it is, we have a more serious problem than fake credentials), then at least some of these people managed to exceed expectations in doing the job they were hired for."

Folks in the Federal government are promoted based on EEOC guidelines, not merit. The only expectation she exceeded was being born with the politically correct set of genitals. Yes, the whole system is corrupt.

Posted by: Gramps | Jan 21, 2005 2:50:28 PM

That is off the point, and your assumption is not shared.

Degrees serve as a signal to employers that an individual has achieved a certain level of competence. That competence can also be demonstrated in other ways (through performance in the workplace, for example); but a degree REQUIREMENT serves two distinct purposes: (1) to ensure a degree of knowledgeable professionalism that might not otherwise have been exhaustively tested, and (2) to assure that an individual does NOT acquire authority due partially or entirely to corrupt influences.

Even if the former can be excluded from consideration in this case (highly doubtful), the latter remains a very relevent concern. It is unlikely, given the reported demoralization of her department, that this woman could have advanced to her position of authority (in HOMELAND SECURITY!!) on the basis of her workplace performance alone.

Unrestrained, people in the U.S. government employ consistently rise to their level of maximum incompetence, and equally consistently elevate their cronies (at the expense of competent alternates) to positions within their power to appoint. Degree requirements have the advantage of placing limitations on such advancement, but cannot when they are not consistently enforced.

I prefer government incompetence to be kept to a minimum. To that end, elected officials are held accountable to the electorate; but bureaucrats cannot be left answerable only to themselves. Others might hold conflicting objectives (job security for the public sector comes to mind); but I find such an attitude, frankly, appalling. If it is a reflection of public sector attitudes regarding accountability, there is very definitely a more serious problem to attend to.

Posted by: Gumbi Dammit | Jan 21, 2005 3:20:57 PM

My last post was addressed to Old Grouch, not Gramps. Sorry for any confusion.

Posted by: Gumbi Dammit | Jan 21, 2005 3:26:07 PM

The fake degree issue is only a fraction of one percent of the real personnel problems in the federal government. The real problem is gross incompetence almost across the board. I now work at a VA medical center. Physician credentials receive phenomenal scrutiny by the federal government. Meanwhile, the Chief of our Information Management Services (equivalent to IT departments elsewhere) didn't have ANY college degree or any formal training in computers. She didn't even understand what terminal emulators were.

I won't even go into the incompetence of almost every human resources employee I encountered. When federal workers are completely incompetent, I don't care that they have a degree from an accredited college.

Posted by: Dr. T | Jan 21, 2005 4:51:31 PM

"It isn't the slight proportion of "milled" government employees that concerns me. It isn't that they haven't yet screwed up in any major way. One day, some critical responsibility for our country's safety will be in the hands of someone who isn't properly trained to do what is necessary. Ask yourselves then if you feel this is an irrelevant issue."

Oh, that's so much loaded bullshit! How many people in Big Government have degrees in Philosophy, Art Appreciation, or some other such nonsense. There is, ultimately, no difference between those who purchased degrees from a brick 'n mortar school, and those who purchased them from a mill. With the obvious exception that the latter were probably a lot smarter about achieving that end and almost certainly got a better ROI.

Posted by: Scott | Jan 22, 2005 7:13:59 AM

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