- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002


Hundreds of federal executives collected bonuses averaging more than $11,000 last year a $32 million payout that has both Congress and the Bush administration looking for new ways to link bonuses to performance.

At the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for example, 161 civil service executives collected more than $1 million in bonuses, even though the agency failed to meet half of its performance goals for the previous budget year.

At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), two executives won presidential rank awards worth $10,000 each, even though the agency missed by 14 percentage points a presidential target to increase seat-belt use to 85 percent.

Throughout the government, top officials collected nearly 25 percent more in bonuses for their performances during the past budget year of the Clinton administration than for the previous year. Bonuses for the 2001 budget year are still being computed.

The increase in incentive pay has caught the eye of Congress and the Bush administration. The House transportation appropriations subcommittee voted to cut the amount of money available for bonuses next year at both the FAA and NHTSA, saying there's been little relationship between agency performance and the payment of incentives to executives.

"Bonuses for government executives should be tied directly to their success at meeting clear and measurable goals," said Rep. Harold Rogers, Kentucky Republican, chairman of the transportation panel. "Taxpayers expect results."

Kay James, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), questioned agency heads in November about appraisals that gave 85 percent of all career government executives top performance ratings.

"These statistics suggest that agencies are not making meaningful distinctions between those who merely do what's expected and those with a consistent track record of outstanding performance," she said.

Miss James said the administration intends to start linking bonuses to the reaching of performance measures each agency is required to develop under the 1993 Government Results Performance Act.

At OPM, she said, the number of executives receiving outstanding ratings dropped by two-thirds in 2001. And the agency paid 15 percent less in bonuses than it did the previous year.

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