The U.S. Department of Education gave more than $5.7 million last year in bonuses to its employees, including a student-aid official who got $71,250.
In the 2003 calendar year, more than 75 percent of the department's employees received bonuses, with political appointees among the recipients.
Each year, the department gives some employees cash awards on top of annual raises, a practice that spans federal agencies. While officials say bonuses are a way to reward performance and help lure employees from the private sector, critics say the practice smacks of favoritism and isn't based on measurable criteria.
An analysis by The Washington Post earlier this year found that nearly two-thirds of 1.6 million civilian federal employees got bonuses or special awards in fiscal 2002.
Nice Gig If You Can Get It
I'm not sure this is what President Bush's Performance Management Agenda had in mind when it prescribed performance tied to funding.