Rep. Meadows Calls for Cutting Federal Employee Bonuses

Wednesday, 31 Jul 2013 12:11 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Top federal executives are getting outrageous bonuses, but their performance leaves a lot to be desired, says Rep. Mark Meadows.

Writing in Politico, he has called for the bonuses to be slashed and introduced a bill to do just that.

"The IRS, now known for abusing its power by targeting groups for their political beliefs, is a prime example of an overgrown federal agency that doles out enormous bonuses to senior employees," the North Carolina Republican said in his op-ed piece.

He cited Sarah Hall Ingram as an example. While serving as commissioner of the IRS office overseeing tax-exempt organizations, Meadows said she received bonuses of $26,550 to $35,400 in fiscal years 2010 to 2012. Each of these bonuses amounted to 15 to 20 percent of her annual salary, according to the IRS.

Meadows also cited Lois Lerner, the IRS director of exempt organizations who recently pleaded the Fifth Amendment in House testimony, as another example, pointing to $110,035 in bonuses he said she received from 2006 to 2012.

But the IRS, he said, is not only agency of government awarding bonus payments.

"In the weeks leading up to sequestration, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) threatened 90-minute waits for airline passengers. The agency led the public to believe flight delays were the inevitable consequence of dire budget cuts under sequestration," Meadows noted. "However, the FAA handed out more than $12 million in bonuses during fiscal year 2012, despite already knowing sequestration was likely to occur."

In fiscal year 2011, 75 percent of high-level federal bureaucrats, or Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, hauled in bonuses averaging $10,889 per person, Meadows said, noting that the largesse cost taxpayers more than $55 million.

"These bonuses exemplify Washington’s spending problem," he said. "A national debt of $17 trillion and an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent should not add up to millions in bonus payouts."

Despite his criticism, the congressman's bill, called the Common Sense in Compensation Act, would not ban bonus payments. Instead it would limit them to no more than 5 percent of base salary in any calendar year in which sequestration is in effect.

"It is time for the government to stop furloughing workers who depend on a paycheck from week to week while awarding outrageous bonuses to senior employees who plead the Fifth," Meadows says.

Republican outrage over the IRS bonuses appears to be having some effect already. The agency has canceled this year's payments for managers and is working to cancel them for other employees as well.




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