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I don't understand: what's the point in all those numerous policies issued by departments for their staff if, as I understand it, they are not enforceable? There is no legal punishment for not sticking to them, and inspectors general — or anyone else besides the president — are not free to fire all those who don't. For example, in 2016, the State Department's Inspector General issued a report where he admitted that some of its former employees, including Hillary Clinton, did not follow its policies in terms of storing and securing federal records, such as work-related emails. No punishment followed because those policies are not the law, and, even it was found out earlier, no Inspector General would have the authority to dismiss Mrs. Clinton, it's POTUS's prerogative, as I understand it. So all those policies are just unenforceable recommendations, aren't they? What's the point then?

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    So this is not a question about law, right? It's a question about politics. I.e. "what political facts cause departments to have policies". – user6726 Mar 23 '20 at 1:16
  • 1. I don't think she was Secretary of State anymore when the report came out. 2. You may or may not have heard, but she was denied her request for promotion in November 2016, with a start date in January 2017. It is not clear if this was one of the many reasons. 3. Every workplace in the USA, public and private, from a two person lawn company to the White House, has a spectrum of punishments that range from verbal reprimand to summary execution. – Damila Mar 23 '20 at 14:51
  • @Damila 1) I believe I suggested it ("[...] even it was found out earlier, no Inspector General would have the authority to dismiss Mrs. Clinton [...]") – Sergey Zolotarev Mar 23 '20 at 17:49
  • Sure, that is true of every large organization.An inquiry is done, the report goes to the supervisor or boss, and they decide on the next action. In a smaller organization., the supervisor might do their own investigation. in a really small organization, the owner and boss and investigatory are the same person. Think of the inspector like a detective; detectives don't prosecute. – Damila Mar 23 '20 at 18:18
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No punishment followed because those policies are not the law, and, even it was found out earlier, no Inspector General would have the authority to dismiss Mrs. Cliton, it's POTUS's prerogative, as I understand it.

That is true for maybe 10 people max in a government department. For the tens or hundreds of thousands of employees who weren't appointed by the President to serve at their pleasure, violating policies can lead to suspension, fines, or dismissal.

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  • Even in those cases, does the IG have the authority to discipline employees directly? Or do they just report findings of policy violation to the department administration, and discipline is decided by the employee's boss or higher management? If the latter then the 2016 Clinton case really would be analogous, with the employee's boss being the President. – Nate Eldredge Mar 23 '20 at 13:17
  • @NateEldredge I think they refer employees to HR for discipline. – cpast Mar 24 '20 at 0:29

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