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$430 Million in Bonuses Last Year to Government Employees

Posted by on May. 24, 2012 at 3:34 PM
  • 5 Replies

Asbury Park, NJ (written by Jean Mikle/Asbury Park Press) --

Follow this link to see the nearly 10,000 Federal employees in South Carolina, salaries, and bonuses awarded (if any) 

The federal government paid at least $439 million in employee bonuses last year, down $43 million since new austerity restrictions were announced.

The largest merit awards went to senior executives in Washington and air-traffic controllers, an Asbury Park (N.J.) Press investigation found. The highest award, $62,895, went to 16 employees from agriculture to NASA.

The $439 million in bonuses may be a staggering amount -- enough to buy the former New Jersey Nets, valued at about $357 million by Forbes magazine -- but it represents just 0.4 percent of the $105 billion in salaries for most of the government's civilian employees. In 2010, at least $482 million was paid in bonuses, according to federal data.

"This is the same president that criticized the banks for distributing bonuses when they were under -- some of them involuntarily -- government support," said Grant Cardone of Los Angeles, a regular commentator for Fox Business News. "Federal employees are already overpaid and coddled with pensions and a variety of benefits. ... How many roads could have been fixed or people put to work with this money?"

Bonuses have long been part of the federal pay structure as a way to motivate employees and to reward good work, government labor experts have said.

The payroll data, obtained from the federal Office of Personnel Management, account for about 1.3 million employees but exclude the military, departments of Defense and Treasury, the FBI and CIA, the White House, Congress and other independent commissions and agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service. The data are from fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30. The data covered base pay and bonuses but not overtime.

In a memorandum sent last June to department heads, OPM Director John Berry and Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, said agencies must limit total spending on performance-based awards to 5 percent of salaries for senior managers, and 1 percent for lower-ranking employees.

Those new standards are in force this year, but departments were advised to start trimming back merit pay during 2011.

Under a 2010 law, federal pay rates were not increased in 2011 or 2012 although employees were still able to get raises if they received a promotion. The Senate in March rejected an attempt to extend the pay freeze for another year.

The Obama administration has recommended a 0.5 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees that would start in January. The last raise for civilian employees was 2 percent in January 2010.

Obama instituted a pay freeze for senior White House staff making $100,000 or more on his first day in office in January 2009.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest department with 316,000 employees, distributed the most award money, nearly $68 million. The Department of Homeland Security gave out $61 million in awards.

The Secret Service, embroiled recently in a prostitution scandal in Colombia, handed out out $6 million in bonuses, or an average of $901 per agent. The average pay for all 7,000 Secret Service employees, including support staff, was $88,219 last year.

But agents generally receive 25 percent over their base pay, according to Dan Emmett, a retired special agent who spent 21 years in the Secret Service and wrote a book, "Within Arm's Length," about his experiences.

This money, called Law Enforcement Availability Pay, is paid to agents who must be available to work 40 additional hours per month in addition to their normal working hours.

"If my boss knows that next Wednesday I'm going to have to travel to Istanbul with the president, that I am going to have to work a certain number of hours beyond a normal work week, that is what that pay is for," Emmett said. "I have to stress, though, that Secret Service agents do not do it for the money. They do it for a sense of duty."

by on May. 24, 2012 at 3:34 PM
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by Silver Member on May. 24, 2012 at 4:20 PM
1 mom liked this

Any they cried bloody murder when AIG handed out bonus.  The gov is in worse shape than AIG ever was.

by Platinum Member on May. 24, 2012 at 7:58 PM

tsk tsk I don't even know what to say about this... the government disgusts me in so many ways...

by Silver Member on May. 24, 2012 at 8:21 PM

It's amazing. The Government takes my hard earned money as taxes to run the country and they give it away to people on PA, waste it on big parties and iPods, give it to political donors for pet projects, invest it in ridiculous failing companies and THEN reward themselves with bonuses with MY MONEY????

Sickening! Our Founding Fathers took up arms against less oppressive taxation and Tyranny.

by Silver Member on May. 24, 2012 at 8:25 PM

And before all the Libs jump on me...

And waste my money on stupid, unnecessary wars.

by Member on May. 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Just an FYI for the DOD (which is the only one I can speak for), they did not receive bonuses last year, nor was overtime available for all employees. <-That meant the worked longer hours for less. This year many departments in the DOD are undergoing funding changes and severe budget cuts. In are being cut, federal employees reassigned and the remaining workforce expected to finish those projects (high profile and otherwise) on time and on budget. Did I mention the reduction in ovetime pay and no bonuses? What happens to the people left to work those projects, you ask? Longer hours, more stress, more TDY time and less compensation for the work they do.

But they're government employees who are reaping unfair benefits from we the people! Of course I expect them to do their jobs, do them well and compensation should be minimal! They're JUST federal employees...those scumbags!!! Everyone knows they just sit around doing nothing and collecting a paycheck.

Here is something you might want to consider. These men and women work for a living. They do a job that needs to be done. Many of them work 10-14 hours a day to ensure that our service men and women have the means and infrastructure to communicate with one another when they are serving both here and abroad. These civil servants work weekends, holidays, travel often and, many times, don't take vacation. (And, yes, they lose some of it just like everyone else.) They miss birthdays, anniversaries, school performances, and (too often) their kid's childhood. They do it for their families and to secure a future for themselves and those they love.

Civil servants are paid slightly less than they could be making for a private company doing the same because the benefits are slightly better. I don't think anyone here actually thinks, because a person is employed by the federal government that they shouldn't be paid for the work they do.

As to the bonuses. Every year employees are evaluated and the evaluation is nothing to sneeze at. To make a 5 (the highest) is very difficult to acheive. It means that person worked their asses off that year. Bonuses are awarded on merit as well as pay and half of that bonus of taken in taxes before the employee even sees it.

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