VA Says it Deferred 2012 Bonuses for Some Health Execs

The deferrals are in addition to an earlier announcement cancelling bonuses in the department’s benefits arm.

Veterans Affairs Department spokesman Josh Taylor defended VA’s system of paying executive bonuses, telling Nextgov the payments are necessary to “attract and retain the best and brightest leaders.”

In response to the department’s ongoing struggle to reduce the backlog of disability claims as well as recent deaths at VA medical facilities, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., proposed legislation today that would ban bonuses for senior executives for five years.

According to Taylor, “Performance awards take into account both individual and overall organizational performance goals.”

Taylor said the department had deferred the 2012 performance awards for some senior executives in the Veterans Health Administration pending further review. Some of those affected are in the Southeast and Pennsylvania medical networks, which have come under scrutiny for various problems.

Last week, VA announced it will not pay bonuses to senior executives in the Veterans Benefits Administration for 2012, a point Taylor reiterated today.

Senior executives are committed to providing veterans with quality healthcare and benefits, he said.

Nextgov reported earlier that VA paid out $16.8 million in bonuses from 2007 through 2011. Bonuses in 2012 -- a figure not previously reported -- totaled $2.3 million. That figure was down $1.5 million from the total bonus peak of $3.8 million in 2007.