More Senior Government Execs Raked in Higher Bonuses Last Year
Policy + Politics

More Senior Government Execs Raked in Higher Bonuses Last Year


The Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Health and Human Services and scores of other federal agencies have been dogged by scandals and accusations of waste and abuse in recent years – but that hasn’t deterred many senior officials across the federal landscape from raking in bonuses and salary increases for alleged “strong performances.”

In fact, last year turned out to be a good year for federal bonuses and merit raises. More federal senior executives received higher bonuses in fiscal 2014 than they did the previous year, according to the latest data obtained by Government Executive

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Roughly two-thirds of all senior executives received bonuses based on their job performances in 2014, according to the analysis. That amounted to a 12.2 percentage point increase in the number of bonuses handed out between fiscal 2013 and 2014 based on officials’ job performance, according to the Office of Personnel Management data on more than 6,200 career executives.

Moreover, the amount of the average bonus increased by $347 during that period, from $10,213 in 2013 to $10,560 in 2014. 

Among other findings in the Government Executive report:

  • The highest average performance award for career senior executives last year was $15,333 at the National Science Foundation. The lowest average performance award in that category was $8,434 at the State Department.
  • Agencies overall rated 92.9 percent of their career senior executives. Nearly 48 percent of them were rated at the highest level in fiscal 2014 --or a 2.6 percentage point increase over 2013 for that group.
  • The average performance award last year for senior executives ranked at the highest level was $11,765 – an increase of $628 for the same group in fiscal 2013. 

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  • The Justice Department rated 83.1 percent of its senior executives as outstanding. By contrast, the Veterans Affairs Department, which has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals over the treatment of vets, rated just 19.1 percent of its senior executives at the highest level in fiscal 2014.
  • Under budgetary pressures, the Office of Management and Budget in 2011 ordered a cap on awards to Senior Executive Service and senior-level scientific and professional employees to no more than 5 percent of their aggregate salaries. The average salary for all senior executives in the government in fiscal 2014 was $168,344, according to the data.

The chart below has more information on fiscal 2014 SES bonuses: