The General Services Administration paid more than $1 million in bonuses to employees while they were being investigated for wrongdoing by the agency’s inspector general, a U.S. lawmaker said.
The GSA made the awards to 84 individuals since 2008, according to a press release today from Senator Claire McCaskill’s office. The employees each received an average of eight bonuses.
“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, a Missouri Democrat, said in the statement.
“GSA is conducting a top-down review of our agency’s operations,” Adam Elkington, an agency spokesman, said today in an e-mail. “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.”
Lawmakers have been scrutinizing the agency’s spending at an $823,000 Las Vegas conference in October 2010. The fallout so far includes the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, who left after the agency’s inspector general released an April 2 report on the event.
The inspector general has referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
Jeff Neely, a former GSA regional commissioner who was behind the Las Vegas conference, was granted a $9,000 bonus even after Johnson was presented in May 2011 with a draft of the report.
The bonus for Neely, who is no longer working for the agency, was revealed during congressional hearings on the GSA scandal. McCaskill’s data on GSA bonuses doesn’t include awards to employees currently under investigation, such as those involved in the Las Vegas conference, because that information isn’t yet available, the senator said.
McCaskill’s probe of bonuses showed that a GSA program officer reassigned after an inspector general investigation on “abuse of authority” received $38,664 in bonuses since 2008.
The senator started the investigation more than a year ago when she learned that a GSA official had received a bonus despite “adverse findings” about the employee’s conduct by the agency’s inspector general, according to a May letter McCaskill sent to the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees compensation for federal workers.
The senator has expanded the scope of her inquiry to include employees at all federal agencies.