IG probes apparently not enough to prevent bonuses at GSA

Having found the General Services Administration awarded more than $1 million in bonuses to employees under the inspector general’s investigation, a senator is taking her investigation governmentwide.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) shared the initial findings from her investigation into GSA June 4, showing that the procurement agency has paid $1.1 million in bonuses since 2008 to employees being investigated by the IG for wrongdoing or misconduct. Those bonuses went to 84 employees. What’s more, they received an average of eight bonus awards each.

One program operations officer who was reassigned after an IG investigation regarding abuse of authority received an average award of $7,730 each year since 2008 for a total bonus award of $38,644. Another supervisor received more than $20,000 in bonuses despite being reprimanded for interfering in an IG investigation.

The senator also said that the overall number of employees who received bonuses while under investigation is likely to be far higher since information pertaining to current investigations, such as the inquiry into the Las Vegas conference, is not available.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test to be awarding huge bonuses in taxpayer dollars to officials who are being investigated, or have already been found responsible, for fraud and waste of those very taxpayer dollars,” McCaskill said.

Meanwhile, the GSA has no policies to ensure that employees under investigation by the IG do not receive bonuses.

GSA didn't reply to requests for comments on the bonuses.

Now  though, McCaskill has turned to John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, which is in charge of federal employee information and policies.

In a letter sent to Berry on May 23, McCaskill asked for the total number and the amount of all bonuses awarded at each federal agency from 2008 to 2011. She wants such details as the overall amount and type of bonuses awarded at the senior executive service level and at each GS level.

She also requested a briefing to her staff regarding policies about bonuses given to employees under investigation. In particular, she wants to know what OPM can do to make sure government employees under investigation do not receive bonuses until the investigation is concluded.

She gave Berry until June 20 to provide the information and briefing.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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