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Tipsheet

As Wounded Vets Wait for Checks, VA Workers Get $24M in Bonuses

A new report by the Veterans' Affairs Inspector General presents some very disturbing findings:

Outside the Veterans Affairs Department, severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment. Inside, money has been flowing in the form of $24 million in bonuses.

In scathing reports this week, the VA's inspector general said thousands of technology office employees at the VA received the bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances. It also detailed abuses ranging from nepotism to an inappropriate relationship between two VA employees.

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In addition to outrageous bonuses, the "nepotism" from Kimberly Hefling's article refers to Jennifer S. Duncan, an employee who awarded herself a $60,000 bonus, and granted tuition financing drawn from the Department's checkbook to a number of employees, including members of her own family.  The "inappropriate relationship" refers to an employee making trips between Florida and Washington where the VA official lived, costing taxpayers $37,000.  In another instance, a part-time intern was given the pay benefits of a full-time employee. 

Investigators with the IG's office are recommending those who received tuition benefits be forced to pay them back--the largest award being $33,000.  In addition to Duncan, other high-ranking employees were awarded bonuses of $73,000, $58,000 and $59,000 between 2007 and 2008.  The article also notes that in 2007 alone, "4,700 employees were awarded bonuses, on average $2,500 each."
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I wonder how many injured American veterans currently awaiting their disability checks think these employees deserved bonuses...

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