Legislation Would Ban Bonuses for Some Federal Employees

March 18, 2015 6:15 PM , Updated July 28, 2020 5:14 PM
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Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) reintroduced legislation this week that would prohibit paying bonuses to federal workers who are not in good standing with their agencies or who are in violation of the law.

The senators’ bill comes after a recent IRS Inspector General report which revealed that $2.8 million was paid in bonuses between 2010 and 2012 to 2,800 employees with conduct violations – including more than $1 million for over 1,100 IRS employees who were delinquent on their taxes. Some agencies, including the IRS, don’t consider conduct problems, including tax compliance, when determining bonuses which is why the lawmakers said there is a need for the legislation.

Known as the “Stop Wasteful Federal Bonuses Act” (S. 742), the legislation would prohibit the head of an agency from awarding a bonus to an employee if the agency Inspector General, a senior ethics official of the agency, or the Government Accountability Office makes a determination that the employee’s conduct either violated agency policy for which the employee may be fired or suspended, or violated a law for which the employee may be imprisoned for more than 1 year.

The bill would maintain the prohibition on bonus pay for 5 years.

The bill also includes a mandatory clawback provision so that the employee – after notice and an opportunity for a hearing – must repay the amount of any bonus made during the year in which such an adverse determination was made.

“Taxpayers in New Hampshire and across the nation are alarmed by recent reports of IRS employees being awarded bonuses that they shouldn’t have received. Federal employees who haven’t paid their taxes or who face disciplinary problems should not be getting bonuses. This bipartisan legislation takes commonsense steps to prevent workers with serious conduct infractions from receiving bonus pay,” said Senator Ayotte.

The legislation was introduced last year but ultimately failed to pass.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.