"The failings in our civil service are encouraged by a system that makes it very difficult to fire someone even for gross misconduct."

John McCain on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 in Oklahoma City.

Mostly True

You can fire federal workers, but it's tough

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, overstates the problem of removing federal employees for poor performance, but not by much, according experts who examine federal work rules.

It is perhaps not a surprise that a union offical disputes McCain's use of the incompetent federal worker cliche. Procedures do exist to remove workers from their jobs, and many people do get fired.

But it takes a long time, according to the outside experts who follow such issues closely. McCain wisely faults not an individual but a "system." That puts him on pretty solid ground, where even a study by the federal government had difficulty finding supervisors who had attempted to take action against poorly performing employees.