Since 2008, the General Services Administration gave more than $1 million in bonuses to 84 employees under investigation by the agency’s inspector general, according to details released by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
An unnamed program officer received $38,664 in bonuses amid an investigation. That employee was later reassigned because of allegations of abuse of authority. A supervisor, who was reprimanded for interfering in an inspector general investigation, received more than $20,000 in bonuses, according to information released by McCaskill’s office.
While GSA does not prohibit bonuses to employees under investigation, McCaskill did question the veracity of the actions.
“It doesn’t pass the smell test to be awarding huge bonuses in taxpayer dollars to officials who are being investigated, or have already been found responsible, for fraud and waste of those very taxpayer dollars,” McCaskill said in a statement. “That’s why I’m not letting up on our fight for accountability in government.”
It was not clear what all of the 84 employees were being investigated for, and the severity of the inspector general inquiries or whether the investigations were later dismissed. The subcommittee declined to release the records to a Washington Post reporter. McCaskill did release a list of the bonuses issued by fiscal year. Single-year bonuses ranged from $118 to $18,000.
Sarah Breen, a spokeswoman for GSA’s Office of Inspector General, declined to comment on McCaskill’s findings.
“As previously stated, GSA is conducting a top-down review of our agency’s operations,” said GSA spokesman Adam Elkington. “This comprehensive review of our agency operations includes all bonus payouts in recent years — especially for those individuals under investigation by GSA’s Inspector General.”
In April, GSA’s inspector general released details of an $823,000 employee conference in Las Vegas. Inspector General Brian Miller was so concerned over his findings that he delivered an interim briefing to senior GSA leadership, including administrator Martha Johnson, in May 2011.
After that interim report, five employees caught in the middle of the investigation received more than $50,000 in bonuses for 2011, according to WUSA-TV. Public Buildings Service deputy Commissioner David Foley, who returned to work last week, received $9,530; Jim Weller, public buildings commissioner for the Greater Southwest Region in Fort Worth, Tex., received $9,100; Paul Prouty, public buildings commissioner for the Rocky Mountain region in Denver, received $11,690; Robin Graf, public buildings commissioner for the Northwest/Arctic region in Auburn, Wash., received $11,180.
Jeffrey E. Neely, the public buildings commissioner for the Pacific Rim region, who organized the conference and wanted it to be “over the top,” received $9,460 in bonuses for 2011. According to the list released by McCaskill’s office, an unnamed public buildings commissioner who received a $9,460 bonus in fiscal 2012, received $18,000 in fiscal 2010 and $16,500 in fiscal 2011. The inspector general’s investigation into the conference started in November 2010.
Neely’s bonus received extensive criticism during congressional hearings in April. Robert Peck, commissioner of the Public Buildings Service who was fired after the scandal broke, had recommended that Neely receive a bonus, against the advice of a performance review panel. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, who would resign over the scandal, approved the bonus. She knew of the investigation at the time.
During an investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Johnson said she authorized the bonus because she had an e-mail from GSA’s deputy inspector general that advised that “no personnel action should be taken until you have received the final report.”