Federal Employee Bonuses: Is Transparency Important?

The current state of affairs in Federal employment may be changing soon. President Trump has proposed that changing the system of salaries to a capped total and awarding bonuses based on merit. Many see this as a reasonable proposal, but there is one flaw: While the public can see the salaries most Federal employees are paid, they cannot see bonuses. This is a problem that is compounded by previous precedents set by Federal employers.


In 2016, the government gave 1 million bonuses for performance. This amounts to $1.1 billion, all of which is paid by taxpayers. The challenge that arises is that all this money was kept out of the public eye, due to a lack of governmental transparency that makes it very difficult to glean any information.

Just a couple of months ago, a Treasury Department supervisor revealed $ 1.7 million in bonuses that were given to 2,000 IRS employees. These same employees had delinquencies, access to tax return details which was not authorized and even were accused of sexual misconduct.


The federal government currently gives five different types of bonuses. They include;


  1. Performance bonus


  1. Incentive bonus


  1. Recruitment bonus


  1. Relocation bonus


  1. Retention bonus


Every bonus is supposed to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act disclosure laws, but in the budgetary year 2016, the Office of Personnel Management revealed only 330,000 bonuses which amount to $351 million.


After auditing, the big, small departments and the independent agencies interfere with the system for their benefits.  Most of the government unions which are not transparent claim that the performance awards are a percentage of every employee’s annual salary and it varies depending on the performance rating. They claim if there were a reveal of the percentage used, the taxpayers would know the employee’s ratings.


However, is that a problem with the taxpayer? It should be the management’s problem. Knowing the employee ratings cannot be compared to a taxpayer’s right to know how the money they pay is being used. After all, we already know that the federal bureaucrats offer themselves performance ratings which then increase the bonus and pay levels. An audit done in 2013 showed that 99% of federal workers get successful job performance ratings, which is of course, a near impossibility.


In cessation, a majority of federal workers recognize their performance correctly. This is why most of them are persuaded to fund these performance bonuses which are over a million. This equals to $1.2 billion. However, the taxpayers cannot put into measurement whatever it is they cannot see. These bonuses could be deserved, could be not. Nevertheless, it is the taxpayer’s money being used, so they should be explained to everything. This will help them to decide on how to hold the officials they elected accountable.

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