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Report: VA 'Erroneously' Paid Out Big Bonuses to Federal Employees

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The Department of Veterans Affairs erroneously disbursed millions of dollars in bonuses to its senior executives, a federal watchdog report found.

No less than $10.8 million was sent out wrongly by the organization as part of hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses distributed to agency employees, according to The Washington Post.

The highest amount paid out erroneously was $106,473, according to the Post. And seven executives received bonuses of $100,000 each, the Post reported.

The Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that it had made the errors in September 2023 and VA Secretary Denis McDonough ordered the executives to repay the money, the Post reported.

However, many who received the bonuses had already spent the money, according to the Post, and others are challenging the order.

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The organization also notified Congress and the office of VA Inspector General Michael Missal, according to the Post.

“The episode exposes a litany of blunders and missing safeguards within VA as its top leaders disregarded rules to hand payouts to all career senior leaders in the D.C. headquarters of the health and benefits systems — then failed to keep McDonough and others informed about the plan, Missal’s office found,” the Post reported.

The money was sent mistakenly as critical skill incentive disbursements to around 182 of the organization’s senior executives, according to a report from the IG’s office.

The funds were disbursed in packages ranging from approximately $39,000 to more than $100,000 each, according to the OIG report.

Should any federal employee earn over $100,000 a year in bonuses?

Introduced as part of the 2022 Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, the critical skill incentive program is an initiative aimed at attracting and retaining talent for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Republican lawmakers slammed the agency for the error.

“During oversight visits across the country, we have consistently heard from VA police officers, medical supply technicians, housekeepers, and other VA staff about the need for VA to better retain quality employees,” Republican House Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois said in a statement shared by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs account on the social media platform X.

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Bost serves as the committee’s chairman.

“Instead of using all of the critical skill incentives to do this, VA inappropriately used the money to line the pockets of VA executives to the detriment of VA’s workforce and the veterans they serve,” Bost added.

“The over $10 million dollars in overpayments to VA central office employees were not some type of administrative mistake – that’s a serious problem for the second largest agency in the federal government – and we’re going to get to the bottom of it come hell or high water.”

The Office of the Inspector General investigation found significant issues with the awarding of CSI program benefits to nearly all central office executives in the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans Benefits Administration.

Many of the awards lacked adequate justification and did not comply with the PACT Act and VA policy, the investigation found.

Another issue the watchdog identified was a lack of transparency from the VHA regarding the scope and costs associated with its CSI program.

This, according to the watchdog, made it difficult to assess whether the incentives were necessary or appropriately allocated.

The Office of the Inspector General also identified that VA human resources, administration/operations, security, and preparedness department staffers showed “excessive deference” to under-secretaries and senior leaders, failing to satisfactorily challenge decisions, such as those relating to the payment disbursements.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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