House Approves Bill to Temporarily Ban Senior Exec Bonuses at VA

Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

The House unanimously passed a bill Monday that would ban bonuses for senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department for the next five years.

The provision was included in a larger bill to require public universities to charge veterans attending their schools in-state tuition rates. The House previously approved a measure that would reduce performance awards at the agency for all employees by 14 percent, or $275 million. The Senate has not voted on that bill yet.

The new legislation would eliminate performance awards for members of the Senior Executive Service through 2018, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would save $18 million. The provision, originally introduced by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., as part of another bill, comes after hearings on VA’s bonus program and a Government Accountability Office report that found the agency’s suspended and unlicensed doctors received significant bonuses.

Miller said the bill’s passage marked an important step forward to hold VA more accountable, as the department has failed to conduct the review of its performance appraisal system that the committee recommended. The chairman long has argued that no one at the department deserves bonuses while the backlog of veterans benefits claims remains high. Miller even created a website to track VA’s “lack of accountability” in giving out awards.

“Until we have complete confidence that VA is holding executives accountable -- rather than rewarding them -- for mistakes, no one should get a performance bonus,” Miller said. “Period.”

The Senior Executives Association warned Miller not to eliminate the performance awards, as it would drive VA employees out of federal service. SEA said in a letter to the committee that the bonuses are part of the pay structure for SES employees, and are awarded only after a “rigorous review of executives’ achievements against both individual and organizational performance goals.”

SEA’s President Carol Bonosaro wrote in the letter that banning bonuses would be “counter-productive and run the risk of detracting from mission accomplishment and driving high-performing VA executives to retire or seek more rewarding positions in other parts of the government or the private sector.”

The performance awards were created “to encourage excellence in performance by career appointees,” according to federal statute, and are worth between 5 percent and 20 percent of an employee’s basic rate of pay. 

(Image via Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com)

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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

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