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Bipartisan bill would ban bonuses for feds with serious conduct issues

Two senators on Tuesday proposed bipartisan legislation that would ban bonuses for some categories of federal employees with serious conduct issues and tax problems.

The bill, introduced by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), would prohibit agency heads from awarding workers whose actions warrant firing or suspension, as well as those who commit felony crimes.

“Federal employees who have disciplinary problems or who haven’t paid their taxes shouldn’t be getting bonuses,” Ayotte said in a statement.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). (AP Photo/Cliff Owen).

The proposal came one week after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a report saying the Internal Revenue Service paid millions of dollars in bonuses to agency employees with “substantiated” conduct issues including nonpayment of taxes.

MORE: IRS paid bonuses to tax-delinquent employees, report says

McCaskill said the bipartisan bill would help restore confidence that the federal government is spending money wisely. “The notion that taxpayer dollars would be used to pay cash bonuses to employees who’ve engaged in conduct that could get them fired or sent to jail is outrageous — and our bill would put an end to it,” she said in a statement.

The TIGTA report does not indicate how many IRS employees who received bonuses would fit the criteria of the Ayotte-McCaskill measure.

The legislation includes a “clawback provision” that would require employes with serious conduct issues to repay bonuses they received within a year of the time a determination was made against them.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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