A pending Senate bill (S-2119) to restrict performance awards paid to federal employees likely will have little impact, the CBO has said, in part because of recent OPM guidance on paying those awards.
The bill, which recently cleared the committee level and is ready for a floor vote, would prohibit federal agencies from awarding a bonus to an employee for five years following an adverse finding against that employee. The bill defines an adverse finding as a determination that an employee either has violated agency policy for which the employee could be removed or suspended from employment for 14 or more days, or has broken the law and could be imprisoned for more than one year.
Further, any employee who received a bonus in the same year as an adverse finding would need to repay the bonus to the agency.
Said a CBO analysis of the bill: “Under current law, there are no restrictions on awarding bonuses to federal employees. Information from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service indicates that some employees with conduct and performance issues have received bonuses. However, recent memorandums issued by the Office of Personnel Management direct agencies to reward the highest performing employees using rigorous standards.
“While CBO expects that the bill would make it more difficult to award bonuses to employees with performance issues it would not change the total amount of bonuses that could be awarded nor add any significant administrative costs to agencies,” it said.