Fischer bill would put an end to improper federal bonuses

  • 30 July 2019
  • NormanL

The federal bureaucracy has an annoying and costly habit of awarding bonuses to employees who've engaged in misconduct or other improper activities.  Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer's "Stop Improper Federal Bonuses Act" would change the process, and give more protections to taxpayers:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., mandates that agencies wait five years before giving bonuses to employees who have violated workplace policies.

“Under my bill, bonuses to federal workers will only be given on the basis of merit,” Fischer said in a statement. “This will help ensure we are using taxpayer dollars in a wise and responsible manner.”

A 2018 Treasury Department Inspector General report found that between October 2015 and December 2016, the Internal Revenue Service gave over $1.7 million in awards to 1,962 employees who had violated workplace policies, Fischer’s statement said. Currently there are no restrictions on awarding bonuses to federal workers.

The bill defines “adverse findings” that would disqualify employees from receiving bonuses as a determination of the agency head that an employee violated agency policy. Employees who are removed or suspended for 14 or more days, imprisoned for over a year or found through inspector general investigations to have engaged in wrongdoing would be subject to the ban.

You can read the inspector general report detailing how bonuses found their way into the hands of almost 2,000 employees with misconduct violations here

This isn't the first time Congress has tried to fix this problem:

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, introduced a similar bill in 2014. Fischer then introduced it in 2015 and 2017. In all cases it did not receive a vote in the full Senate. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the oversight committee, submitted a report to accompany the legislation in 2017 noting the Congressional Budget Office predicted that although the number of people eligible for bonuses would decrease under the new policy, the overall amount of bonus money awarded would not change and therefore the bill would not have a major impact on the federal budget.

The bill needs to have a full Senate vote this time -- and one in the House, too.