from phila inquirer 5/4/07:
[color=#0044bb]big bonuses at strapped va raise ire
a list obtained by ap of bonuses to senior career officials in 2006 documents a generous package of more than $3.8 million in payments by a financially strapped agency straining to help care for thousands of injured veterans returning home from iraq and afghanistan.
among those receiving payments were a deputy assistant secretary and several regional directors who crafted the va's flawed budget for 2005 based on misleading accounting. they received performance payments up to $33,000 each, a figure equal to about 20 percent of their annual salaries.
also receiving a top bonus was the deputy undersecretary for benefits, who helps manage a disability-claims system that has a backlog of cases and delays averaging 177 days in getting benefits to injured veterans.
the bonuses were awarded even after government investigators had determined the va repeatedly miscalculated - if not deliberately misled taxpayers - with questionable methods used to justify bush administration cuts to health care amid the burgeoning iraq war.
annual bonuses to senior va officials now average more than $16,000 - the most lucrative in government. all bonuses are proposed by division chiefs, then approved by nicholson.