Marie C Fields/

Uncle Sam Scales Back on Bonuses

Federal employees received $332 million in awards in fiscal 2012, $106 million less than in fiscal 2011.

The government handed out less bonus money to federal employees in 2012 than in 2011, according to new data.

Uncle Sam paid $332 million in bonuses to feds in fiscal 2012, down $106 million from fiscal 2011, and $149 million less than in fiscal 2010. The Asbury Park Press reported the findings on Thursday.

It’s not surprising that the government is handing out fewer bonuses to federal workers in light of the current fiscal and political environment. In June 2011, the Obama administration directed agencies to scale back on bonuses paid to Senior Executive Service members and other senior-level employees. Total spending on individual performance awards for SES and scientific and professional employees must equal no more than 5 percent of aggregate salaries, the memo stated. For bonuses paid to all other workers, that total drops to 1 percent. President Obama ordered a freeze in 2010 on bonuses for political appointees.

Federal civilian employees have been under a pay freeze since 2011, though they are still eligible for bonuses, and more pay through promotions and within-grade step increases.

The Patent and Trademark Office handed out the largest amount of bonuses -- $34.8 million -- of federal agencies included in the fiscal 2012 data. PTO receives funding from patent fees and the bonuses are part of collective bargaining agreements with unions, spokesman Patrick Ross told the newspaper. Employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency received the biggest jump in awards, receiving $10.9 million in bonuses in fiscal 2012, $9.6 million more than the previous year, according to The Asbury Park Press. FEMA spokesman Dan Watson told the newspaper that the $10.9 million in financial incentives related to 2011 and 2012 cash awards.

The data, which the newspaper publishes annually, was obtained from the Office of Personnel Management. It excludes the military, Defense and Treasury departments, White House, and U.S. Postal Service.

(Image via Marie C Fields/