Bill Would Ban Misbehaving Feds From Getting Bonuses

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. J. Scott Applewhite/AP File Photo

Federal employees who break the law or aren’t in good standing with their agency would be prohibited from receiving bonuses under a new bipartisan Senate bill.

The legislation, introduced on Tuesday by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., would prohibit agency heads from awarding bonuses to employees who could be fired or suspended for violating agency policy, or for doing something illegal that could land them in prison for more than a year. The bonus ban for those employees would last for five years. Agency inspectors general, senior ethics officials or the Government Accountability Office would determine whether an employee’s conduct violated agency policy.

The bill also includes a mandatory clawback provision requiring the employee to repay the amount of any bonus made during the year in which such a determination is made.

“Federal employees who have disciplinary problems or who haven't paid their taxes shouldn't be getting bonuses,” Ayotte said in a statement.

The bill comes a week after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report that found about 2,800 employees involved in misconduct resulting in disciplinary action received a total of $2.8 million in bonuses between October 2010 and December 2012. The IRS doesn’t consider tax compliance or disciplinary actions when doling out bonuses or other awards, the auditors found, except for employees in the Senior Executive Service.

“The notion that taxpayer dollars would be used to pay cash bonuses to employees who've engaged in conduct that could get them fired or sent to jail is outrageous -- and our bill would put an end to it,” McCaskill said. The Missouri Democrat introduced a similar bill back in 2012.

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