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A minimum of 170 days is required to fire a federal employee for poor performance, if a government agency properly follows the required dismissal process.

The government firing process is so lengthy that departments often keep bad employees to avoid it, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“The time and resource commitment needed to remove a poor performing permanent employee can be substantial,” the GAO said. “It can take six months to a year (and sometimes longer) to dismiss an employee.”

In order to fire a government worker federal managers can consult a 12-step flow chart, which the GAO provided in the report released Monday. The report examined the “long-standing personnel issue” of the government’s inability to fire bad employees.

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