(NATIONALREVIEW) — Two-thirds of employees at the Department of Veteran Affairs, which has been the subject of widespread criticism for its excessive delays in providing veterans their benefits, received bonuses at the end of 2011 for “excellent” or “outstanding” performance. Additionally, employees at some of the department’s most ineffective offices were more likely to receive bonuses than workers at some of its most productive offices.

The VA’s regional office in Oakland, Calif., gave about 90 percent of its employees bonuses despite having to temporarily shut down operations to retrain its underperforming workers and, in a Baltimore office, about 40 percent of workers receive a bonus despite the office’s having the longest wait time nationally, according to a News21 investigation. Yet, at the Sioux Falls, S.D., office, which processes claims up to four times more efficiently than Oakland, less than a tenth of its employees saw a bonus, the same investigation found.

Overall, employees received about $5.5 million in bonuses. According to the report, the department’s performance standards encourage workers to push aside more complicated claims and process easier ones to ensure their job security and qualify for extra pay through a points system. One Veterans Benefits Administration official said in defense of the bonuses, ”There are many, many employees who are exceeding their minimum standards, and they deserve to be recognized for that.”

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