Most Fed Bonuses Forbidden Under Sequestration

Lev Kropotov/

Most awards and bonuses given to federal employees would be canceled indefinitely under sequestration, according to a new White House memo.

The Office of Management and Budget guidance said “discretionary monetary awards to employees should occur only if legally required until further notice.” OMB released the memo as $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board fiscal 2013 budget cuts were set to begin taking effect.

Discretionary monetary awards refer to “awards or bonuses that are paid out to federal employees,” an OMB spokesman said.

Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executive Association, said the freeze would not apply to senior managers’ performance bonuses, as they are specified in statute as a part of their pay structure. It instead applies to an award an employee receives for performing a particular action exceptionally well, she said.

The move would be part of an effort for agency heads to “provide heightened scrutiny of certain types of activities funded from sequestered accounts,” the guidance said.  Additional such “activities” include “increased scrutiny” on hiring and paying for new training, conferences and travel.

“In light of the reduced budgetary resources available due to sequestration,” OMB comptroller Danny Werfel wrote in the memo, “expending funds on these activities at this time would in many circumstances not be the most effective way to protect agency mission to the extent practicable.”

(Image via Lev Kropotov/

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