Legislation that would limit the amount of bonuses the Veterans Affairs Department can pay its top employees would save $13 million during the next four years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
CBO scored H.R. 4057, which limits to $1 million per year from 2013 to 2017 the total amount VA can pay in performance awards to senior staff. In recent years, the department has paid slightly less than $4 million annually in such bonuses. The House Veterans Affairs Committee approved the bill in July.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., aims to improve outreach to service members and veterans on the education benefits available to them and create a registry to track military members exposed to toxic chemicals caused by open burn pits. CBO estimated the expanded effort to provide more information about education benefits would cost $7 million during the next four years, while the registry’s price tag would be $1 million in 2013 and $2 million between 2013 and 2017.
An amendment to the bill requires the VA secretary to provide caskets or urns for veterans with no next of kin and insufficient resources to cover burial and funeral expenses.
“Service members looking to use their hard-earned GI benefits deserve to be armed with the best and most complete information to help them decide what institutions will best meet their needs,” Bilirakis said in a statement when the committee approved the bill. “Veterans returning to the civilian workforce are struggling to find meaningful work, and this legislation is a way in which we can help them receive the most affordable and effective education to advance in their future career.”