Rep. Jason Chaffetz is requesting detailed information about federal employee bonuses.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz is requesting detailed information about federal employee bonuses. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Lawmaker Launches Investigation Into Feds' Bonuses

Republican leader targets data from specific agencies as well as governmentwide.

The chief lawmaker who oversees federal workforce issues is looking into employee bonus pay, asking some agencies for more information on performance awards over the last decade.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, penned letters to the heads of the FBI, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to request details of the agencies' spending on bonuses. Chaffetz told the agency leaders he was leading an examination of awards spending “across the federal government,” though he appeared to kick the review off just at those three components.

The chairman asked for extensive information on employees, including Presidential Rank Awards provided to Senior Executive Service employees. The committee requested documents from 2005 through 2015 related to rating-based awards; time off awards; recruitment, retention or relocation incentives; and referral incentives. It also asked for details on each employee’s position and rank, as well as the amount of each award.

A committee spokesman did not respond to an inquiry into why the FBI, Forest Service and BLM were targeted or what Chaffetz plans to do with the information once he receives it. He did add, however, the oversight committee’s panel on the Interior Department will hold a hearing on BLM issues next week. The letters sent this week appear to be part of Chaffetz’s larger effort to glean more information about federal employee compensation.

Last month, Chaffetz wrote to Office of Personnel Management acting Director Beth Cobert asking for a plethora of details on federal employees' pay and benefits. The chairman requested data from fiscal years 2011 through 2015, such as the average pay raise for Senior Executive Service and General Schedule feds, the number of employees receiving step increases and bonuses and a list of workers earning six figures. He also asked for information on employees not performing well, including those docked pay, demoted, fired or transferred due to poor performance ratings. Finally, Chaffetz asked for the average cost of federal employees’ non-cash benefits.

The deadline passed for OPM to respond with that information earlier this month, but the committee spokesman said it is working with OPM to get answers.  

Chaffetz’s request for compensation details from BLM was not his only request of the land management agency this week; following a recent hearing in which his committee probed the General Services Administration for its mishandling of a program that recouped excess firearms from federal agencies, the chairman asked BLM for a detailed accounting of its arsenal. 

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