Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill wants some federal officials to pay back their bonuses. McCaskill and Kelly Ayotte, (R) New Hampshire, announced today that they have introduced bipartisan legislation that would take back bonuses paid to employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs who were involved in the manipulation of electronic waitlists.
Because the VA used compliance with wait-time metrics as a factor in determining employee bonuses, some VA employees were incentivized to use secret waitlists to artificially inflate compliance data in order to maximize their bonus payments. According to one report, employees at the Phoenix VA hospital received approximately $10 million in bonuses since 2011, while simultaneously using secret waitlists to hide delays in patients receiving care.
“I’m pleased this bipartisan legislation will hold responsible any VA employee found to have cooked the books on wait times, and will help us quickly recover bonuses and raises paid to those fraudsters with taxpayer dollars,” said McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran. “And I’ll continue holding the agency accountable and demanding VA leadership comply with all recommendations issued in the Inspector General’s interim report.”
The McCaskill-Ayotte legislation directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to require VA employees who received bonuses in 2011 or later to repay those bonuses if they contributed to a deliberate omission from an electronic wait list the names of veterans waiting for health care. The employee’s superiors are also required to pay back bonuses if they knew, or reasonably should have known, of their subordinates’ purposeful omission of the names of veterans from electronic waitlists. The bill requires the VA secretary to identify these VA employees through reports issued by the department’s Inspector General.
Earlier this year, McCaskill and Ayotte introduced the “Stop Wasteful Federal Bonuses Act” following an IRS Inspector General report revealing that $2.8 million was paid in bonuses between 2010 and 2012 to 2,800 IRS employees with conduct violations – including more than $1 million for over 1,100 employees who are delinquent on their taxes. Their legislation would prohibit bonuses for federal employees who aren’t in good standing with their agency or the law.