Government Employee Bonus Payouts Dropped in 2012
According to new data released last week, the government paid less bonus money to federal employees in 2012 than in 2011. The findings were first reported by The Asbury Park Press.
In fiscal year 2012, federal employees received $332 million in bonuses. That amount is $106 million less than was paid in fiscal 2011, and $149 million less than was paid in fiscal year 2010. The average bonus last year was $922.
The data presents an imperfect picture, however, since it does not include figures for the military, the Central Intelligence Agency and other security agencies, the Defense or Treasury departments, the White House, or the U.S. Postal Service.
Nonetheless, the downward trend on bonus payouts should come as no surprise – in June 2011 President Obama directed agencies to dial down bonuses for members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and other senior-level positions. The guidance instructed agencies to limit total spending on performance awards for SES, SL, and ST employees to no more than five (5) percent of aggregate salaries. Political appointees have had their bonuses frozen since 2010.
So who did receive a bonus in 2012? The single largest pool of bonus dollars went to examiners with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). In total, the PTO paid out $34.8 million in awards, with about $25.5 million being split among 8,294 patent examiners. The average bonus for a patent examiner was $3,077. The PTO is funded by fees from patent and trademark owners and applicants, and much of the award money went towards reducing a backlog of patent applications.
Other agencies that distributed large amounts of bonus money were the Veterans Health Administration ($27.9 million) and the Federal Aviation Administration ($24 million).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ranked seventh in overall bonus payouts, with $10.9 million, yet had the largest year-to-year increase. In 2011, FEMA paid just $1.3 million in bonuses.
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