Bonuses for employees at Veterans Affairs?!

This is by far the most absurd thing I have heard in quite some time.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — While hundreds of thousands of disability claims lay backlogged at the Department of Veterans Affairs, thousands of technology employees at the department received $24 million in bonuses, a new report says.

Lawmakers want to know why some IT workers in the VA Department have received millions in bonuses.

A report issued by the VA’s Office of Inspector General said the department issued millions of dollars in awards over a two-year period in 2007 and 2008.

“The frequent and large dollar amount awards given to employees were unusual and often absurd,” the report stated.

The reports also called the payments “not fiscally responsible.”

Four high-level employees received about $60,000, $73,000, $58,000, and $59,000, respectively, according to the report, without sufficient justification. Another employee received a $4,500 performance award within the first 90 days of her employment from a manager who said that she did not even remember her.

The annual average award per employee was about $2,500 for both years, according to the report. About 4,700 awards and bonuses were issued in 2007, and about 5,000 in 2008.

The inspector general said one recently retired official, Jennifer S. Duncan, improperly approved numerous bonuses and “acted as if she was given a blank checkbook to write unlimited monetary awards.”

During the two years in question, Duncan received over $60,000 in bonuses, according to the report.

In addition, the report concluded that the Office of Information and Technology managers were fiscally irresponsible when authorizing nearly $140,000 in improper academic degree funding, some of which went to Duncan’s family and friends. The inspector general recommended the money be repaid.

My quick thoughts:

  • they think the payments were not “fiscally responsible”? Really? Sounds downright criminal to me.
  • why did it take this long before Jennifer Duncan’s (and apparently others as well) check-writing was noticed?
  • the inspector general recommends the money be repaid? Repaid?! First of all, how much chance is there of that? Second, shouldn’t there be more justice than requiring repayment?
  • the good news (I’m being sarcastic) is that Congress wants to do an investigation. Let’s see by the time they come to any conclusions should be about 10 or 15 years from now. Meanwhile, veterans still wait for their payments and Jennifer Duncan is living well on her pension and self-provided bonuses.
  • DISGUSTING.

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