The U.S. Government doled out $1.5 billion in recruitment, retention, incentive, relocation, and performance bonuses last year (FY2016), but disclosed only 330,000 bonuses totaling $351 million. Performance bonuses of nearly $1.1 billion were withheld from disclosure, which is prohibited by anti-transparency language contained within the government-union contracts.
The largest federal bonus last year, $141,525, didn’t go to a rocket scientist or a doctor researching a cancer cure; it went to Bart Ferrell, a Human Resources Manager in charge of processing payroll at the Presidio Trust. This small land management agency, located in San Francisco, California, is the developer of the former military base.
Presidio Trust paid out three of the top four largest federal bonuses. Realtor Francene Gonek received an $80,330 bonus, while Michael L. Boland received a $74,688 bonus as a "Miscellaneous Administration and Program" employee. In total, seven in 10 of the agency’s 326 employees received bonuses.
When asked about the department’s pattern of awarding large bonuses, a spokeswoman from Presidio Trust issued the following response:
"We are competing for talent in the Bay Area job market. Given the very high cost of living in the Bay Area, and the tight labor market, we make payments in addition to regular salary for the following reasons: signing, performance, retention and departure."
Overall, the Department of Transportation paid out the most in bonuses in FY2016: $54.4 million in total. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce weren’t far behind in bonus spending, awarding $53.8 million and $52.6 million, respectively.