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Liability Insurance for Federal Employees and Contractors

FEDS October 2023 Newletter

Antideficiency Act Violations at USDA Could Have Far-Reaching Impact 

Every year, federal employees across a number of agencies face potential discipline for violations of the Antideficiency Act (ADA). For example, in a recent high-profile decision the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not meet its obligation to notify Congress about the appropriation of funds to support the relocation of the Economic Research Service (ERS) and, in failing to do so, violated the ADA.

In 2019, USDA paid a federal contractor to consult on and help execute the move of the National Institute of Feed and Agriculture (NIFA) and ERS from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City, MO. While GAO found that USDA did meet its obligations to notify Congress about the transferring of funds to support NIFA’s relocation, the same requirements were not met for ERS’ relocation.

GAO reported that USDA did not account for staff attrition when considering the costs of relocating, straying from the department’s own criteria. Shortly afterward, both agencies lost more than half their staff due to the relocation, which spurred an overall decrease in productivity. Although USDA largely recovered its staff numbers by late 2021, a GAO report published earlier this year found that the new employees were less experienced than previous employees.

Because of this ADA violation and the apparent consequences to USDA staffing and productivity, three VA lawmakers are pushing Congress to pass the Conducting Oversight to Secure Transparency (COST) of Relocations Act that will require any agency that plans to relocate to conduct and publish a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the proposed move prior to execution.

The Antideficiency Act intends to prevent agencies from spending money either in excess of, or in advance of, Congress’ appropriations. It also imposes criminal penalties on any federal employee, officer or executive who violates the ADA. USDA employees involved with the relocation of ERS may be subject to investigations into decisions made in the scope of their federal position. Because this issue has received attention from lawmakers, Congress, and GAO, calls for accountability and consequences are likely to follow. Additionally, USDA managers may struggle to increase productivity while working with inexperienced employees. Because USDA is already being monitored closely, agency officials may look to managers to place blame for workplace issues.

Allegations against federal managers can lead to agency investigations. If an allegation is made against you, it is a necessity, not luxury, to have knowledgeable and effective counsel advocating on your behalf. Your agency attorney is not your attorney. It is the job of the agency attorney to defend the agency – not you. As a federal employee, you need to have counsel that has specific experience representing employees with your professional vulnerabilities.

FEDS Protection offers federal employee policies with $1 million, $2 million, or $3 million in civil liability protection for attorney’s fees and indemnity costs in the event you are sued in your civil capacity.  The FEDS policy also includes $200,000 of legal representation coverage per incident for administrative actions and $100,000 of coverage for criminal defense costs.  Annual premiums for FEDS Protection PLI start at $290 and federal managers and law enforcement officers are eligible for a reimbursement of up to 50% the cost of their PLI policy through their agency.  To learn more about how a FEDS PLI policy can protect you and your career, visit or call (866) 955-FEDS, M-F 8:30am-6pm to speak directly to a representative.

*This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Are You a Retiring Federal Employee or Leaving Federal Service and Considering Contracting with the Government?
If yes, consider FEDS Protection for your government contracting insurance needs. At FEDS Protection, we also support Federal Contractors by providing insurance coverage specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of today's federal contractors, including general and professional liability, Defense Base Act Insurance, and Foreign Liability coverage.  In our experience, many small businesses need assistance in navigating the insurance portion of a government RFP.

The federal government is our specific focus and area of expertise. If you are looking to review your current or upcoming insurance needs, including the unique insurance requirements of any contract involving civilian employees overseas (requiring DBA Insurance and Foreign Liability coverage) please contact our government contractor specialist Deb Moylan at 301-284-8887 or

Deb Moylan can help you bridge the gap so that your next contract will lead to success!

Inclusion in Action
FEDS Protection wants to celebrate those who work together from diverse backgrounds that move our country forward. These efforts are not and cannot be made alone. They are completed each day with empathy, energy, and intentionality. While some moments can be awkward, small wins can be awesome.  Regardless, each inclusive action is worth the effort.

We hope each of you can play a small part in the path toward progress and continue to do so in your own way. We will continue to stand with you in this effort every step of the journey.

"I always say that if you don’t have someone complaining about what you’re doing, you’re probably not leading, so I’ve carried PLI (like a security blanket) for most of my 20+ years as a career senior exec. Unfortunately, there are just too many ways for disgruntled employees to attack what you’re doing by making allegations that are ultimately unfounded. For example, when I was Chief HR Officer with the IRS, I had a staffer complain to the IG about a procurement impropriety I had allegedly committed (the employee just didn’t like what I had procured), and I used my PLI to pay for a lawyer to sit with me during the IG interview. I simply couldn’t have afforded to do so otherwise. In the end, the IG dismissed all charges, but it was comforting to have my PLI-paid lawyers with me.”
- Dr. Ron Sanders (SES, retired)

Radio & Webinars
The FEDS team hosted a webinar on Professional Liability Insurance for the Federal Pretrial and Probation Officers Association (FPPOA) on October 5th. Contact us if you or your agency are interested in a webinar or brochures that provide federal employees best practices on how to protect themselves with a federal employee professional liability insurance policy like the one offered by FEDS Protection. This benefit is so important, it could be partially reimbursed for many federal employees!

FEDS On the Road

oUnited States Animal Health Association’s (USAHA) 127th & American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians’ (AAVLD) 66th Annual Meeting (National Harbor, MD)
oFederal Aviation Administration Managers Association (FAAMA) 2023 Managing the Skies Expo (Henderson, NV)
oFederal Law Enforcement Officers Association 2023 National Convention (Houston, TX)
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