July 15,2005

Chairman Grassley questions FDA about extraordinarily high employee cash bonuses

July 15, 2005

Via Facsimile: (301) 827-1960
Original via USPS Mail

Lester M. Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Acting Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857

Dear Dr. Crawford:

I recently received an allegation that the amount of cash bonuses awarded tocareer senior executive service (SES) employees at the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has increased significantly during your tenure as Acting Commissioner. Basedupon the documents received, it appears that bonuses were increased from about$160,000 in 2004 under Dr. Mark McClellan’s leadership at the FDA to over $500,000 in2005 under your leadership. I would like to inquire about this issue.

The purpose of employment bonuses is to recognize and encourage good jobperformance. Under civil service law, federal agencies can reward their employees withcash awards or additional time off. It is interesting to note, however, that according to a2002 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) survey, less than half of the federalworkers surveyed believed awards were given based on how well employees did their joband less than a third believed that their award program gives them an incentive to do theirbest.

In addition, last year, the Washington Post conducted a review of fiscal year (FY)2002 personnel data obtained from the OPM and reported that the typical bonus awardfor SES federal employees was $10,000, or about 7.2 percent of their salary, compared to$865, or about 1.7 percent, for other federal employees.

These findings raise questions about the awarding of bonuses. Accordingly, asChairman of the Committee on Finance (Committee), I request a response to thefollowing questions related to FDA’s employee bonuses:

1. How many career SES employees and General Schedule (GS) employees atthe GS-14 and GS-15 levels received bonuses from FY 2000 through FY 2004and, to the extent possible, for the current fiscal year through July 15, 2005?Please provide the total bonus amount for each fiscal year by pay category orgrade. In addition, please provide a breakdown by individual employee,including the individual’s grade and job title.

2. What is the total amount of cash awards paid to career SES, GS-14 and GS-15employees each year from FY 2000 through FY 2004 and, to the extentpossible, for the current fiscal year through July 15, 2005? Please provide thetotal amounts for each fiscal year by pay category or grade. In addition, pleaseprovide a breakdown by individual employee, including the individual’s gradeand job title.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. I would appreciate a response to myinquiries no later than July 27, 2005. Should you have any questions regarding this letter,please do not hesitate to contact Emilia DiSanto or Angela Choy at (202) 224-4515. Allcorrespondence should be sent electronically in PDF searchable format tothomas_novelli@finance-rep.senate.gov. All original material should be sent via USPSmail.


Charles E. Grassley