VA: Brush fire or forest fire?

If you look at the VA scandal, as if it were relatively small but fast-burning fire in the drought-stricken West, how much damage — if any — do you think it will do to feds in other agencies before it is contained?

Are you watching from afar in the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security, Interior or the Patent and Trademark Office? Are you immune, so far, from the bonus ban the Department of Veterans Affairs has imposed for its executives? Will this fizzle out when our reelection-focused, short-attention-span Congress finds another cause? Or is this going to be with us for a while with dire results — if you like bonuses and promotions.

Bonuses in government have been on the decline for the past several years. The Asbury Park Press ( N.J.), which keeps a critical eye on government operations, reported that bonuses last year were at the $176.6 million level — down from $332 million the year before. And that in turn was down from $439 million in bonuses the year before that. And those numbers don’t include all agencies, meaning the total bonus price tag was almost certainly higher. Do the CIA and NSA do bonuses? Very likely.

While government bonuses capture (and enrage) the attention of many taxpayers, in-the-know feds are concerned that fallout from the VA investigation could erode job security, especially at the upper levels of the career civil service.


So where is this going? What are the issues, what are the known facts and what’s at stake here?

Today at 10 a.m., we’ll be working both sides of the street on our Your Turn radio program. Senior Executives Association president Carol Bonosaro will lead off, talking about the threats to the career SES, and the dangers to the American public if career jobs are turned into serve-at-will positions. At 10:30 a.m., Andy Medici from the Federal Times will look at the VA scandal, bring us up to speed on where it is (and where it’s likely heading) and what’s in it for you, whether you are a GS-9 or a member of the SES.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


Compiled by Jack Moore

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is an adherent of Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto, who has conducted studies purporting to show that water responds to people’s thoughts and feelings. In one of his “experiments,” water placed in a vial labeled with negative phrases, such as “I hate you” and “fear” produced “misshapen” water crystals when frozen.



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