Cong138.doc. 7-17.

Conservatives have complained for years about federal employees receiving undeserved, generous bonuses. Employees who have received personnel censures and demotions for engaging in unethical or illegal behavior sometimes receive these bonuses. Current law has no restrictions on bestowing bonuses on federal employees, and those having misconduct and poor performance evaluations have gained bonuses.1 Federal government unions and their Democrat congressional allies protect present law. Now, NE Sen. Deb Fischer has introduced legislation to end this outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars. “It’s my duty to ensure Nebraskans’ hard-earned tax dollars are used wisely. Federal employees who have broken the law or who engage in serious misconduct should not receive bonus pay. Today, we continue our bipartisan push to end this ridiculous practice and root out waste in our government,” declared Senator Fischer.

S. 696 would prohibit federal agencies from giving a bonus to an employee for 5 years after the end of the fiscal year following a negative finding against such employee. Negative findings include determination that an employee violated agency policy for which such employee could face firing or suspension from employment for 14 or more days or that such employee violated the law and could face prison for over 1 year. Bonuses in the form of a performance award or cash sum awarded employees in the same year as a negative finding occurred would revert to the awarding agency. Agency chiefs, after notice and opportunity for a personnel hearing, will issue orders forcing the employee to repay the entire amount of the bonus. Determination of misconduct can base on an investigation, determination, or information provided by an inspector-general or other senior official of an agency or the Comptroller-Gen. of the U.S. To receive a bonus, every employee must sign a statement promising to repay the bonus in accordance with S. 696 provisions. A flaw in this bill is the ability of a targeted employee to appeal to the Merit System Protection Board. This board restored pay and bonuses to a convicted sex offender after ruling that he had improperly lost his job. The board also reversed the firing of and restored pay and bonuses to a disgraced VA exec at a facility that witnessed stealing of strong drugs meant for veterans. Several staffers had stolen drugs to use or sell on the streets. The Senate to no avail asked the Board to account for its record of ensuring awards for the worst federal employees. Continuing this appeal process will insulate the federal bureaucracy from deserved scrutiny.

S. 696 successfully passed through the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing with unanimous support. Now, the full Senate must debate it.

Recall the infamous General Services Administration spending scandal in 2010 regarding its stupendous party in Las Vegas. Several faced firing after exposure of this outrage, but over 50 participants managed to receive bonuses for their work on this spending spree. A 2014 revelation pointed to the IRS giving huge numbers of cash bonuses to employees with discipline problems. $1 million in bonuses went to IRS workers who did not pay their taxes. In several instances, these miscreants won promotions, according to one audit. In approximately 60% of cases of willful violations, IRS managers conveniently discovered mitigating circumstances and refused to fire the employees, despite the law plainly stating such penalty. In several cases, managers did not bother to document their reasons for overriding the penalty requirement.2

Contact Sen. Ben Sasse immediately to co-sponsor S. 696 and support its passage in the full Senate without a Merit System appeal process. Conscientious and diligent federal employees should not have to share bonuses with employees who knowingly and willfully break rules or the law.
Honorable Ben Sasse
U.S. Senate
(202) 224-4224

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