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House panel bans bonuses for GSA employees under investigation

Jun. 21, 2012 - 12:20PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Rep. Jeff Flake, above, added an amendment to the House financial services and general government bill banning bonuses for General Services Administration employees who are under investigation for misconduct.
Rep. Jeff Flake, above, added an amendment to the House financial services and general government bill banning bonuses for General Services Administration employees who are under investigation for misconduct. (File photo / Getty Images)

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General Services Administration employees who are under investigation for misconduct would be banned from receiving bonuses under a spending bill passed Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for doling out bonuses to government employees under investigation for misconduct,” said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who added an amendment to the House financial services and general government bill banning the bonuses.

GSA has come under withering criticism from Capitol Hill in recent months over its tendency to award generous bonuses to employees while they were being investigated for wrongdoing. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., earlier this month revealed that GSA had paid at least $1.1 million in bonuses to 84 employees under inspector general investigation since 2008.

And lawmakers have repeatedly expressed outrage that GSA gave Jeff Neely — the former Public Buildings Service commissioner for Region 9 who was responsible for a lavish $823,000 Las Vegas conference — a $9,460 bonus last year, even though officials knew the IG was preparing a devastating report on the conference. In all, five top officials, including Neely, who were later placed on leave over the Las Vegas conference received between $9,100 and $11,690 in bonuses last year.

GSA is also the most generous federal agency when it comes to awarding bonuses. The agency handed out bonuses to 87 percent of its workforce last year.

The spending bill does not include a pay raise for federal employees in 2013, but it also does not explicitly freeze pay. In a report accompanying the bill, the committee said it chose not to include language freezing pay because the House already froze feds’ 2013 pay in another bill it passed in February. But that bill — HR 3835 — is not expected to come up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, since most Democrats oppose a third year of the pay freeze.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also has approved a general government spending bill with no language on a pay raise for 2013.

Some Democratic lawmakers hope that Congress will not act one way or another on next year’s pay raise, which would allow President Obama to unilaterally impose his own pay raise next year. Since House appropriators have decided against including a pay freeze in this spending bill, and since HR 3835 has little chance of passing the Senate, that strategy could still have a chance.

Obama wants federal employees to receive a 0.5 percent pay raise next year.

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