- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2007

More than two dozen senior D.C. officials were inappropriately given more than $500,000 in cash bonuses in the waning days of the administration of former Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

“The 28 employees were comprised of agency directors, deputy mayors, the city administrator and senior officials in the Office of the Mayor,” according to a report issued Friday.

Among the major findings in the report by D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols:

Employees received a total of $525,846 in bonuses that were not submitted, reviewed or processed under proper procedures, according to D.C. personnel rules and before the chief financial officer had certified that sufficient surplus funds were available in agency budgets to pay for them.

Agency heads received $379,690 in bonuses, despite the lack of contracts spelling out the goals and expectations for their performance. Deputy mayors and other senior employees received $122,465 in bonuses, despite not having individual performance plans or employee evaluations.

City officials paid $89,565 in awards to 10 senior employees based on evaluations the employees wrote for themselves. The employees, who were not identified in the report, received bonuses between 7 percent and 8 percent of their annual salaries.

A $15,600 bonus was paid to a city employee who was no longer serving on the job. The employee is not identified, but the report also indicates that a $15,600 bonus was paid to the city administrator on Oct. 24, 2006.

Former City Administrator Robert C. Bobb left the D.C. government to run for president of the Board of Education in September 2006. The bonus was awarded slightly more than two months after the city administrator received a $15,600 bonus on Aug. 4, 2006.

The auditor recommended in the report that the city take steps to recover the retroactive bonus. It was the only case in which the auditor recommended recovering bonus money.

Mr. Bobb did not return a phone message yesterday seeking comment.

Those receiving the improper bonuses included Mr. Williams’ chief of staff, his three deputy mayors, the police chief, the attorney general, the chief technology officer and the directors of the city’s Emergency Management Agency, Health Department, Transportation Department, Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Unified Communications, among others.

The 28 officials received six-figure annual salaries that ranged from $107,640 for Gustavo Velasquez, the head of the Office of Latino Affairs, to $195,000 for Mr. Bobb.

The auditor found that the head of the D.C. Office of Personnel, who was responsible for authorizing the payments, expedited the bonuses to the senior Williams administration employees in some cases.

In more than half the cases, the report says, the proper paperwork recommending the bonuses was not completed until 60 days after bonus checks were processed. The report also states that required forms containing a written justification for the bonuses for the 28 senior administration employees were never completed.

“In addition to violating the District personnel regulations, the director’s use of this improper practice also permitted some employees, including herself, to receive incentive payments in excess of amounts later recommended by the city administrator,” the report states.

The head of the District’s Office of Personnel at the time was Lisa Marin. The records show that the head of the personnel department authorized an $11,053 bonus for herself, which far exceeded the bonus of $5,527 that her superiors recommended for her.

Excessive awards were given in five cases totaling $18,521, according to the report.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty replaced Ms. Marin with Brender L. Gregory and renamed the department the Office of Human Resources.

In a response to the auditor’s report dated Sept. 14, Miss Gregory said her office has begun a review of the findings and suspended the bonus program as of Aug. 31.

During a hearing before the D.C. Council’s Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations, City Administrator Dan Tangherlini referred to the report and said the District had “gone too far” in awarding bonuses.

The bonuses, which are paid from taxpayer funds, can be given for “a suggestion, an invention, a superior accomplishment, length of service, or other meritorious effort that contributes to the efficiency or economy or otherwise improves the operations of the District government.”

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