U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney pushed through a bill Monday night that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to tell Congress how much money it pays out in bonuses each year to its senior staff.

The House of Representatives passed the legislation by voice vote. Tenney, R-New Hartford, authored the bill in response to widespread concerns about the review process the VA uses to evaluate workers amid a series of high-profile problems at its facilities.

In fiscal 2015, more than half of the VA’s employees nationwide received bonus payments, adding up to $177 million, according to data obtained last year by USA Today.

All told, 189,000 employees received bonuses, including some who were paid extra money before they retired or were fired for performance problems.

Tenney’s “Department of Veterans Affairs Transparency Act” (H.R. 1690) would require the VA to submit an annual report to Congress listing each bonus the agency paid to senior-level staff, their job titles and the location of their employment.

In seeking support for her bill, Tenney noted that some VA personnel received bonuses “despite poor performance or outright negligence.” She cited the 2015 case in which the VA awarded bonuses to executives who had oversight of a VA Denver construction project that had cost overruns of more than $1 billion.

The data obtained by USA Today showed VA senior executives received average payments of about $10,000 each, while non-executive received bonuses that averaged $900.

Tenney’s bill had 11 co-sponsors including four Democrats and New York Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro; Chris Collins, R-Clarence; and John Faso, R-Kinderhook.

By: Mark Weiner

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