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$30 Million In Unreported GSA Bonuses Uncovered By WUSA9 Investigation, Rep John Mica Plans Congressional Investigation

10:54 PM, Jul 31, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)  -- The U.S. Government won't explain, but a 9 News Now investigation has found $30 million in unreported bonuses for fiscal year 2011 - making the already troubled General Services Administration's total bonus pool nearly $44 million.

Click here to search GSA payroll records uncovered in WUSA9 investigation by name, city, and job title:  http://www.wusa9.com/news/database/

"Just outrageous," said U.S. Rep John Mica, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "All put on the taxpayers tab. There are very serious problems for GSA. "

GSA does not respond to interview requests

GSA officials did not respond to interview requests, but issued a statement saying Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini "is reviewing all bonuses and the entire performance award system."

Mica shares GSA oversight responsibility with Congressman Jeff Denham.

"We've known that there is a culture of waste, fraud and abuse," said U.S. Rep Jeff Denham (R-Ca.), Chairman of the House Subcommitte on Oversight.  "This proves that this is a systemic problem that is rooted deeply within this organization."

Mica plans to bring out the bonus records uncovered by 9 Wants to Know during a congressional hearing into GSA mismanagement scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.

WUSA9 investigation reviewed over 13,000 payroll records

The $44 million in bonuses should have been released in May, when the Office of Personnel Management released GSA payroll and bonus information, but until WUSA9 sorted through the newly obtained 13,000 GSA pay records, the troubled agency had reported less than a third of its bonus pay.

"It's very significant," Mica said. "People have to be held accountable"

The GSA statement said the agency has identified more than 15 different bonus structures, questions about the agency's high award rate, and questions as to whether performance goals are set to high enough levels.

GSA suspended a bonus program to senior executives after a May WUSA investigation uncovered 67 bonuses of about $10,000 a piece, including payouts to officials suspended for poor performance.

WUSA9 has published the newly obtained 13,710 individual payroll records of GSA employees showing bonuses and wages the agency did not release in response in May.

"I want to be commissioner, so freaking bad," crooned the GSA rapper made infamous in videos released as the agency's $823,000 Las Vegas convention scandal unfolded. "When I'm commissioner, oh, oh, oh," goes the refrain about easy government money at GSA.

The findings of our analysis indicate the rapper may as well have been singing about former Acting Administrator and Denver Regional Commissioner Paul Prouty.

Congressional sources say Prouty, who officials suspended shortly after the scandal broke, helped organize that lavish $823,000 Las Vegas GSA convention - working with Commissioner Jeffrey Neely who is better known for that shirtless convention bathtub shot.

It wasn't not Prouty's first dustup in a GSA controversy.

Official earns $100,000 in bonuses during years of controversies

In 2009 , Prouty was the acting Administrator who received the GSA death list, an e-mail warning about fears Kansas City workers had cancer related illnesses caused by toxins at a GSA complex. GSA ignored the warning, and Prouty got a bonus.

The GSA cash bonuses referred to in the highly publicized rap videos paid out big for Prouty following the unexplained deaths of workers in Kansas City and the lavish spending at the Las Vegas Convention.

According to documents and a database obtained by 9 Wants to Know under the Freedom of Information Act, in addition to his $167,700 annual salary, Prouty pocketed over $100,000 in bonuses over the past three years.

The day we met Congressman Mica, he was literally humming as he walked out of his Rayburn building office, but it was to tune quite different than the GSA's "I want to be a commissioner."

"You've helped uncover incredible abuse of a bonus system," Mica said after reviewing documents obtained by 9 Wants to Know. "This is, uh, This is very revealing."

A GSA official say Prouty left the agency June 25th, but declined to provide details of the separation.

It's not just Prouty's bonus that shocked Mica.

OPM FOIA response didn't include GSA's extra $30M bonuses

It's the $30 million dollars in bonuses the government did not report in a May Freedom of Information Act to WUSA9 sister publication Asbury Park Press.

In it, OPM reported GSA paying out only $13,100,951 in bonuses.

Click here to see individual GSA worker pay records, and records of other federal employees reported to Asbury Park Press in May in response to the original Freedom of Information Act.

Editors note:  Despite repeated requests, GSA offered no comment on the missing until after publication of this story.

"GSA accurately reports salary and personnel information to the Office of Personnel Management on a biweekly and annual basis," said GSA spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara after publication.

OPM did not respond to interview requests, and an official there said the agency could not speak to GSA's process for releasing bonus information.

Although WUSA9 used the exact verbiage from the Asbury Park Press FOIA requesting fiscal year 2011 payroll and data, it wasn't until our FOIA response received in July uncovered the additional $30,638,981 in bonuses they didn't report in May.

Thus bringing the actual total of GSA bonuses in 2011 to $43,739,932.

"Now we can see why they didn't want to give us the details," Mica said. "You've helped uncover incredible abuse of a bonus system."

2500 GSA workers received bonuses from $5,000 to $79,000

The 9 Wants to Know analysis uncovered 2500 GSA employees getting bonuses in increments of $5,000 up to $79,000 last year.

Most are grossly underreported in the OPM response or not reported at all.

Our FOIA shows Deputy Commissioner Jon Jordan $79,000 in bonuses, but in May, OPM reported Jordan's bonus as only $1,800. The WUSA9 FOIA indicates more than $54,000 in bonuses was paid out to Commissioner Paul Prouty, but OPM reported it as $3,200.

The response to our FOIA reports over $51,000 in bonuses to Commissioner Cathleen Kronopolus, but OPM records totaled her bonuses at only $2,700.

Assistant Commissioner Edward O'Hare's nearly $52,000 bonus isn't recorded at all.

In its written response, GSA said the large awards were due to a presidential program that recognizes outstanding employee performance across the federal workforce.

"Each of these individuals received either the Distinguished Rank Award or the Meritorious Rank Award in 2011, which are one-time awards that can be up to 20-35 percent of a senior executive's annual salary," the GSA statement said. "Three months ago, Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini began a comprehensive, top to bottom review of all agency operations, which includes a review of all bonuses and the entire performance award system."

Mica plans to seeks answers during a Wednesday hearing already scheduled to investigate spending at a $270,000 one day GSA conference in Crystal City.

"We're going to look at not only the outrageous expenditures of the latest conference, but now at some of the bonuses that have been granted," Mica said. "We're going to do that in our hearings."

Other findings of the WUSA9 FOIA:

$8 million in overtime

The payroll records revealed over $8 million in 2011 overtime with 85 GSA workers earning $20K or more each in annual overtime.

A Washington D.C. electrician's base pay of $87,912 exploded to a total of total $214,929 with bonuses, shift differentials and overtime of $115,876.33.

In its statement, the GSA said most employees do not earn overtime.

"GSA pays overtime, leave, and locality pay in accordance with all applicable laws," the statement said. "Those who did earn overtime were eligible employees who worked over 8 hours in a day, worked over 40 hours in a week, or worked on a Sunday or a holiday or an overnight shift."

Of ten GSA workers making $75,000 or more in overtime dollars, all but one worked in Washington offices.

$7 million in unused leave pay

We also identified over $7 million paid out to workers in unused leave pay.

A former director of human resources annual salary soared from $175,644 to $277,008 after adding bonuses and $80,000 in unused leave pay.

The GSA statement identified leave pay as earned vacation time based upon an employee's years of service.

"By law, employees must be compensated for unused annual leave when leaving the agency," the statement said.

If you want breaking developments in our GSA investigation, follow Twitter.com/russptacek and Facebook.com/russptacek.

If you have information about government waste or corruption, e-mail: tips@wusa9.com.

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