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According to a government watchdog report, the Department of Veteran Affairs overpaid $10.8 million in incentive bonuses to senior executives last year and is struggling to recoup the overpaid funds. 

This finding, revealed in a recent inspector general’s report, shows an increase from the previously reported $9.7 million. The bonuses were part of a retention program under the PACT Act, designed to maintain critically needed staff across various departments. However, the report detailed that 182 senior executives received these funds, ranging from $39,000 to $100,000+. These payments proceeded despite reservations expressed by the department’s human resources officers and others within the VA.

Va Hospital

According to the report, the oversight largely stemmed from leadership and procedural control lapses. VA Inspector General Michael Missal identified that the Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, and his counterpart in the Veterans Benefits Administration, Joshua Jacobs, did not adequately communicate the payment of these bonuses. Elnahal failed to inform VA Secretary Denis McDonough about the bonuses, although he was aware of other payments within the organization.

Secretary McDonough was reportedly unaware of the full extent of the bonuses until September last year, leading to a decision to halt further payments and initiate a recovery process. The VA’s intent to recoup the bonuses faces hurdles as much of the funds have been spent, and the report notes that some executives have already retired, further complicating recovery efforts.

The VA has agreed to all eight recommendations from the inspector general, including improving oversight and resolving conflicts of interest. As the department works to correct these issues, it reaffirms its commitment to responsibly managing funds and upholding the trust placed in it by veterans and taxpayers alike.


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