Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency were placed on a "disproportionate" amount of paid administrative leave, with many out of work for four months or more while collecting a government paycheck.

The EPA often did not keep records of why employees were sent home with pay for such long stretches, according to an inspector general report released Monday.

Administrative leave is supposed to provide a brief reprieve for government employees while their agency investigates alleged misconduct or poor performance.

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"We do not consider 4 months or more to be a brief absence," the EPA inspector general wrote in the report.

For example, one employee was placed on leave in March 2010 and recommended for termination in April of that year. But the employee spent eight months on paid leave before he was actually fired, collecting a paycheck the entire time.

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