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Watchdog probes possible $250,000 bonus to EPA worker

121715 250k bonus at EPA pic
(Screen shot courtesy of EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency's Inspector General said Thursday that the agency's chief financial officer gave an employee $9,000 in bonus awards less than three months after she was hired.

The IG said in April, it got an anonymous tip that the CFO was trying to pay a $250,000 bonus to the new hire, a senior director working out of North Carolina.

According to the IG report, the CFO wanted to "pay a $250,000 bonus to a newly hired employee because it was unable to provide relocation expenses for the employee."

Relocation awards have become a hot issue over the last few weeks, as senior employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs were caught receiving relocation awards worth several hundred thousand dollars.

The IG said the $250,000 was never paid, but did say it found that two awards of $4,500 each were handed out just weeks after she started. The report said the awards were justified internally as a reward for the new hire's "extraordinary initiative," and her efforts to create "more efficient operations."

While short of the $250,000 alleged by the tipster, the IG said a third bonus was being considered for the employee. It also said the $9,000 paid out went far beyond the normal amount of bonuses paid out.

"The total award amount of $9,000 represented approximately 25 percent of the director's salary for the 3-month time period. The IG said "this was an unprecedented amount" for a someone who has only been working three months.

The IG recommended that all awards be reviewed to make sure they are "reasonable and properly justified."