The House on Wednesday approved a measure to give bonuses of up to $20,000 to employees who find ways to cut costs at their agencies.
The 2017 Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act (H.R. 378), introduced by Reps. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., would increase the maximum bonus available to employees who report wasteful spending from $10,000 to $20,000. By law, only agency inspectors general can dole out these awards, and agency heads, IG office employees and those who earn the highest pay grade on the Executive Schedule are all ineligible for the program. In addition to doubling the potential payout, the bill would allow an agency head—rather than just the IG—to grant such an award.
Employees would become eligible for the award either after alerting the IG to waste or mismanagement, as is currently allowed, or identifying “unnecessary expenses” to their agencies’ chief financial officer. President Ronald Reagan originally signed the law allowing the IG to dole out bonuses to cost cutters in 1981.
The bill’s author called it “common sense legislation.”
“The federal government for far too long has been guilty of spending waste, fraud and abuse,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. “We all know government has a tendency when they have a pool of money to spend it whether they need it or not.” He added the measure would incentivize federal employees to root out waste.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the bill would have a negligible impact on agencies’ budgets and the existing efforts to root out fraud and mismanagement would mean the new authority would lead to little in the way of savings.
The Office of Personnel Management would oversee the award program and ensure compliance with the law, while the Government Accountability Office would report to Congress on the spending and savings associated with the new authority. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced similar measures in the Senate during previous sessions of Congress.