Veteran Affairs Bonus Cuts Revealed

Only reward good results: Congress votes to cut Dept. of Veteran Affairs bonuses.

On Monday, Congress voted unanimously to cut bonuses and performance awards by nearly 13% annually for the Department of Veterans Affairs, The Washington Post reported. Many people in both government and the civilian workforce are still outraged that despite the enormous backlog of veteran benefits claims and veterans appellate claims, the VA gave away more than $5.5 million in bonuses to its claims processors in 2011. 900,000 cases this year before the VA implemented a “surge” that included mandatory overtime for processors.

However, the ground gained was lost when the government was shut down for 16 days and also, when automatic spending cuts forced the department to reduce overtime expenses.

According to Fox News, the whole bonus system created a very odd work culture in what is a government office. To meet certain performance benchmarks at the end of each month, workers were encouraged to stick to simple cases, while ignoring claims that required additional time and attention.

This bill doesn’t go so far as another one that was proposed earlier this year. According to Military.com, that bill would have prevented senior executives with the Department of Veterans Affairs from receiving another bonus for five years. Military.com reported thatCommittee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., told them that “the legislation is also the result of the VA’s failure to give his committee information about potential fraud involving bonuses.” Hearings before both House and Senate lawmakers have brought out testimony of allegations that some VA hospital executives skewed data on veterans’ appointments and drew bonuses for meeting the goal.

However, Yahoo.com reported in April that the VA would voluntarily withhold bonuses for senior officials who oversee disability claims, citing a failure to meet performance goals for reducing a sizable backlog in claims processing.  In 2011, three staff members of the Veterans Benefits Adminstation received the top payment of $23,091 each.

 

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