Bill Reintroduced to Ban Bonuses for Some Federal Employees

Legislation has been reintroduced in the Senate that would ban bonuses from being paid to federal employees for conduct violations.

Legislation has been reintroduced in the Senate to prohibit federal agencies from giving bonuses to federal employees who have conduct violations.

The Stop Improper Bonuses Act (S. 2119) is being reintroduced by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE). In addition to banning the bonuses for conduct violations, the legislation would also require federal employees who engage in egregious misconduct to repay their bonuses.

Under the terms of the bill as written, agencies would be prevented from giving a bonus to a federal employee for five years after the end of a fiscal year in which the agency makes an “adverse finding” relating to the employee. An “adverse finding” occurs when an employee violates a workplace policy for which he or she could be terminated or suspended for at least 14 days, or when an employee violates a law for which he or she could be imprisoned for more than a year.

In order to protect against employees irresponsible managers, any employee may appeal an adverse finding to the Merits Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

“We have to end the practice of federal agencies awarding bonuses to employees who have engaged in serious misconduct or criminal behavior. Under my bill, bonuses to federal workers will only be given on the basis of merit. This will help ensure we are using taxpayer dollars in a wise and responsible manner,” said Fischer.

As basis for the legislation, Fischer cited a 2018 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report which revealed that between October 2015 and December 2016, the IRS issued more than $1.7 million in awards to 1,962 employees with disciplinary or adverse actions during the prior year.

Fischer previously introduced the bill in 2015 and 2017.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.