The Department of Veterans Affairs handed out $108.7 million in bonuses to executives and employees in the past three years, an Asbury Park Press investigation found.
The top bonuses went to senior executives in the Veterans Health Administration, which oversaw hospitals and clinics found to be manipulating data to hide long wait times for care.
In 2013, the top bonuses went to three officials who received $21,000; $17,000 and $13,000.
In 2012, those bonuses were $62,895 each, according to the paper.
Former VA Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiWhy aren't more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Biden's Cabinet? Biden VA pick faces 'steep learning curve' at massive agency Biden nominee: VA staff hampered by 'mismanagement' MORE halted bonuses for 2014, before he resigned late last month over evidence inappropriate scheduling was occurring throughout the system.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) called the VA’s culture of rewarding employees while patients waited for care “outrageous.”
“Instead of somebody figuring out what bonuses to give out, they should have been figuring out how to get everything staffed up so that these problems did not occur. It is outrageous,” he told the Asbury Park Press.
A bipartisan group of 21 senators this week called for a criminal investigation, and on Thursday, the FBI announced it had opened a probe into the VA.
House lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would suspend employee bonuses through 2016, as well as make it easier to fire employees engaged in misconduct. The Senate passed its own version on Wednesday.
A VA audit released Monday showed that more than 57,000 veterans have waited 90 days for a first appointment, and more than 63,000 veterans over the past decade never received first appointments at all.
Sharon Helman, the top executive at a Phoenix VA clinic, where it is alleged that some veterans might have died while waiting, has been directed to repay her $9,345 bonus. She earned a salary of $169,900 last year, according to the Asbury Park Press.