While much of the news this week revolved around the President’s overseas trip, there was actually some business of the people getting done in Washington. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee actually found an issue where both the Democrats and Republicans could agree. A bill introduced by Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer intended to stop the payment of bonuses to federal employees who commit offenses subject to suspension or firing actually passed through the committee unanimously. There are some holes in it as I’ll explain in a moment, but if much more of this keeps happening I might rethink my long held position that common sense is illegal inside the Beltway. (Government Executive)
A bill barring agencies from awarding bonuses to federal employees who have committed major infractions sailed through a Senate committee Wednesday morning.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted unanimously to send the Stop Improper Federal Bonuses Act (S. 696) to the full Senate for consideration.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., would prohibit agency heads from awarding bonuses to employees who have committed a felony or violated a policy for which they could be removed or suspended for at least two weeks. The prohibition would last five fiscal years after the adjudication of the infraction.
Now, I can guess what some of you are probably thinking already. Wait a minute… we’re paying bonuses to people that we’re trying to fire for having broken the law? Of course we are, because this is still the same old Washington machine which operates under rules which were pretty much written by the government workers’ unions and the Democrats they finance. The taxpayers have no seat at the table in these negotiations so most management situations play out like something out of Bizarro World. And these shenanigans have been going on for years.
Remember the GSA spending scandal in 2010 over their lavish party in Las Vegas? That one caused heads to roll, but even after the scam was exposed, more than 50 participants and organizers received “mandatory” bonuses for their work on the Sin City spending spree. In 2014 a study found that the IRS had given out huge amounts of cash in bonuses to employees with “disciplinary problems” which included more than a million dollars in bonuses to IRS employees who (wait for it…) didn’t pay their taxes. And those two examples are only a drop in the bucket.
So now we have pending legislation which may do something about this pattern of abuse. That’s great. But unfortunately, the “good news” in this report is tempered by one important caveat they slipped in toward the end. (Emphasis added)
An employee deemed ineligible for bonuses would be able to submit an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Ah, yes. Our old friends at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will still be able to step in and have the final say on bonuses and pay for those accused or convicted of delinquency or even crimes. So how do you suppose that will play out, even under these new guidelines? Let’s not forget that this is the same MSPB who ensured that a convicted sex offender had his pay and bonuses restored after the they found that he had been “improperly denied his government job.” The board also reversed the firing of and restored pay and bonuses to a disgraced VA executive at a facility where powerful drugs intended for veterans were being stolen, used by staffers or sold on the streets. The list of such incidents goes on long enough to fill a dumpster.
It was over a year ago that the Senate “asked for some accountability from the MSPB” regarding their record of handing out rewards to some of the worst federal employees. That didn’t seem to go anywhere. So now we have a new proposal hopefully making its way into law, but it contains some of the old, union endorsed landmines which have paralyzed the bureaucracy for generations.