WASHINGTON, D.C.(WUSA) - A 9 Wants to Know investigation has identified a history at the General Services Administration of paying high dollar bonuses to senior leaders despite their links to wrongdoing identified by Inspector General investigations.
"It's heartbreaking," says Barbara Rice, a former worker from the GSA Regional Headquarters Building in Kansas City, Mo. "Everyone has turned pretty much a deaf ear."
The investigation, which has identified a $26 million dollar annual GSA bonus pool, comes shortly after the Administrator resigned in the wake of a lavish Las Vegas convention with 2,400 square foot hotel suites.
Year after year, GSA Regional Commissioner Mary Ruwwe has received bonuses, despite being at the center of Inspector General investigations.
Rice created the "GSA Death List" to warn officials of worker fears they were being killed by toxins in that building.
"I have pages here of the dead, and the deceased and the dying," Rice said.
Rice has watched as GSA's Ruwwe not only denied the list's existence, but despite one critical Inspector General report after another. raked in years of bonus money.
"I'm outraged," said US Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Ca) who chairs the House subcommittee with GSA oversight. "It's absolutely a pattern."
Denham said the bonuses we've uncovered will change his GSA investigation.
In 2010, The Inspector General first accused Regional Commissioner Mary Ruwee's office of providing "misleading information" and doing "damage to GSA's credibility" in an audit of "health and safety conditions" at GSA's Kansas City regional headquarters
GSA continually denied knowledge of the death list that I first uncovered as a reporter at Kansas City's KSHB-TV in 2009.
"Still, we don't have any answers and I have added six more people to the death list in the last month," Rice said.
Despite GSA's denials, a Freedom of Information Act request identified an e-mail from Ruwee, sent out months before the KSHB investigation, titled "heads up."
It was a political warning to top GSA officials in Washington about worker fears of cancer and toxins.
Barbara Rice's GSA Death List was attached.
"It seems repeatedly we hear that there's nothing wrong," Rice said.
With Rice's help, the investigation identified more than 450 sick or dead workers at the Kansas City building, including those on the east side where the Department of Energy makes parts for nuclear bombs.
Now, more than two years later, Congressman Denham says the GSA Death List will get national attention.
"We're not only going to go after the health and safety issues of GSA, but we're going to make sure we hold them accountable."
A second IG report into Ruwwe's office found her office hired a PR firm at a cost of $234,000 to respond to "questions regarding toxic substance health risk"
That year, Ruwwe was awarded bonus money again.
In fact, according to a Freedom of Information Act response , every official who either sent or received a copy of the GSA death list received bonuses over those two years. $22,000 for Ruwwe, $32,000 for her boss Anthony Costa and about $49,000 for then- acting Administrator Paul Prouty.
In all, in 2010 alone, GSA issued $26 million in bonuses.
"We need to have accountability to show where the money is being spent so these bonuses can't continue to go on," Denham said.
Mary Ruwwe appeared at a 2011 congressional hearing into the hiring of that $234,000 publicity firm.
She sat right next to former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson.
"We have taken this as an opportunity to do a lot of improvement," Ruwwe said of the IG's criticism.
According to the Inspector General, at that hearing, while under oath, the GSA officials provided "misstatements of fact."
Johnson resigned last week and hasn't returned our calls.
Spokeswomen said neither she nor Ruwwe wished to comment.
According to an official letter from Senator Claire McCaskill to the GSA, for Ruwwe's performance in 2011, Martha Johnson gave her a third bonus.
A CDC investigation identified five potential pathways from the part of the building contaminated by bomb part manufacturing, but found no current health risks.
9 Wants to Know is asking anyone with information about waste and
corruption at GSA to contact Investigative Reporter Russ Ptacek at email@example.com. You can also follow @russptacek on Twitter.