Senator calls for audit of senior executive bonuses

Dorgan asked GAO to conduct the review. Dorgan asked GAO to conduct the review. Shauneil Scott/Landov
In the wake of revelations about skewed or untimely payment of bonuses at the Education and Veterans Affairs departments and the Food and Drug Administration, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., on Friday called for an investigation of how performance-based bonuses are distributed to members of the Senior Executive Service.

"It seems those who administer this bonus program at the various agencies think all the Senior Executive Service employees are above average," Dorgan said in a statement. He asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct the review.

In fiscal 2006, 67.2 percent of SES employees received performance awards under a system established by Congress in 2003 that allows agencies to lift caps on base pay and total compensation for senior executives if the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget sign off. The average award for top-rated executives was $14,290.

For fiscal 2006, 43.4 percent of SES employees received ratings at the highest level for their performance. That figure actually has fallen since fiscal 2004, when 59.4 percent of senior executives received top ratings. The 2004 figure was inflated, however, by the 83.3 percent of Homeland Security Department executives who received that rating the first year the department was open for business.

"It's up to the agencies to decide how they define 'top performing,' but if they have a definition that includes 97 percent, they've not come up with a definition of top performers -- they've come up with a definition of everyone," said Barry Piatt, Dorgan's communications director.

As the percentage of employees with top ratings has fallen, the 67.2 percent of SES employees rewarded for their performance in fiscal 2006 was up 9.8 percent, from 57.4 percent in fiscal 2003. Five agencies -- the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, State and Transportation departments -- saw the number of senior executives receiving bonuses jump more than 20 percent between fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2006.

And at five agencies -- the Defense, Housing and Urban Development and Labor departments, the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the program -- more than 90 percent of SES employees received bonuses in fiscal 2006.

"[Dorgan] has not attempted to diagnose or prescribe a cure at this point," Piatt said, "but he's noticed that there seems to be a significant problem here."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.