These 5 Federal Agencies Doled Out the Biggest Bonuses
Policy + Politics

These 5 Federal Agencies Doled Out the Biggest Bonuses


Some federal agencies were more generous than others when it came to bonuses in fiscal 2013, according to the latest data from the Office of Personnel Management.

The number of career senior executives receiving a bonus based on their job performance decreased by 12.9 percent between fiscal years 2012 and 2013 across government, and the average amount of individual performance awards fell $523 during that time. Some agencies reduced how many senior execs received bonuses in fiscal 2013, but increased the amount on average of performance awards handed out (U.S. Agency for International Development). Others decreased the individual bonus size on average, spreading the wealth around to more people (Education Department).

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Regardless of how agencies decided to divvy up the performance awards, they all had to comply with the cap the Office of Management and Budget mandated in 2011. Performance awards to those in the Senior Executive Service and senior-level scientific and professional employees can be no more than 5 percent of employees’ aggregate salaries.

The average award for employees rated “outstanding” on their performance evaluation was $11,139 in fiscal 2013, while those rated “exceeds expectations” and “fully successful” received $8,756 and $8,208 on average in bonus money, respectively.

Here are the top five most generous agencies when it came to individual performance awards in fiscal 2013. We’ve defined “most generous” as those agencies that provided bonuses that were more than the average individual award of $10,212 governmentwide. Again, these are averages; some senior executives might have received more money, and others less than the amount listed in parentheses.

  1. USAID ($14,545)
  2. Justice ($13,453)
  3. Treasury ($12,498)
  4. National Science Foundation ($12,159)
  5. Education ($11,765)

It’s also worth noting that some of the agencies on our “most generous” list for fiscal 2013 actually decreased the amount of their average senior executive bonus between fiscal year 2012 and 2013.

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Here’s the list of agencies in alphabetical order that reported reducing the amount of their average career SES performance award between fiscal years 2012 and 2013:

  • Defense
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • General Services Administration
  • Homeland Security Department
  • Interior
  • Justice
  • Labor
  • NASA
  • OMB
  • Small Business Administration
  • State
  • Treasury
  • Veterans Affairs
  • All others

And for good measure, here’s the list of agencies (in alphabetical order) that reported increasing the amount of their average career SES performance award between fiscal years 2012 and 2013:

  • Commerce
  • Health and Human Services
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • NSF
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • OPM
  • Social Security Administration
  • Transportation

The Agriculture Department handed out the same amount on average in both fiscal years 2012 and 2013: $9,122.

This article originally appeared in Government Executive.

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Fewer Senior Execs Got Bonuses in Fiscal 2013
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