Republican presidential contender Ben Carson said Wednesday that if elected next year he might implement a “covert division” of government workers who spy on their coworkers to improve government efficiency.
The pediatric neurosurgeon-turned-candidate told a crowd of Iowa Republicans he is “thinking very seriously” about adding “a covert division of people who look like the people in this room, who monitor what government people do.”
Carson suggested people would work harder if they suspected their coworkers of monitoring their work. “And we make it possible to fire government people!” he said to loud cheers.
Conservatives often criticize government employees as bureaucrats who live off public money and aren’t accountable to taxpayers. Still, Carson’s suggestion that such workers should spy on each other is the latest in a string of unusual — and often bizarre — ideas he’s floated that win cheers from far-right crowds and raised eyebrows from everyone else.
It’s true that firing government employees who underperform can be notoriously complicated – so much so that most agencies don’t even try to do it, a Government Accountability Office report found earlier this year.
Campaign communications director Doug Watts tried to clarify Carson’s comments in an email to msnbc. “Covert division? More like Secret Shopper, a quality control strategy used worldwide to improve customer service and customer care,” Watts said.
While Carson is considered to be a long shot for the GOP nomination at best, his polling numbers and fan base are strong and active, indicating that Republicans can’t count Carson – or his covert division – out just yet.