Federal employees who have engaged in misconduct should not receive bonuses, according to Sen. Kelly Ayotte. (Allison Shelley / Getty Images)
Federal employees who are subject to disciplinary action or found in violation of agency policy won’t be able to get bonuses, under legislation introduced by a bipartisan pair of senators April 28.
Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampsire, and Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri., introduced the Stop Wasteful Federal Bonuses Act after learning of a recent IRS inspector general report revealing $2.8 million in bonuses paid to 2,800 employees with conduct violations.
The bill identifies the senior ethics official from the agency, the Government Accountability Office or the agency inspector general as those who can make a determination of employee misconduct.
“Taxpayers in New Hampshire and across the nation were alarmed by recent reports of IRS employees being awarded bonuses that they shouldn't have received. This bipartisan legislation takes common sense steps to prevent workers with serious conduct infractions from receiving bonus pay," Ayotte said in a press release.
The legislation also contains a “clawback” provision so that any employee must repay the amount of any bonus made during the same year they are found in violation or the law or agency policy. The employee would get a notice and the opportunity for a hearing.
The bill would also prohibit those employees from receiving bonuses for another five years.
"The notion that taxpayer dollars would be used to pay cash bonuses to employees who've engaged in conduct that could get them fired or sent to jail is outrageous-and our bill would put an end to it," Senator McCaskill said. "If we're going to restore Americans' confidence that their federal government is spending money wisely, then this is a commonsense step in that direction."
The bill follows legislation introduced April 15 by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas., that would withhold the pay of any federal employee found in contempt of Congress.
Farenthold, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee with jurisdiction over the federal workforce, said in a press release the bill would apply to federal officials such as Attorney General Eric Holder. The House voted him in contempt of Congress in 2012.
“The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials’ bad behavior,” Farenthold said.
The legislation would not affect retirement benefits or payments for retired federal employees.