CALL 6: $2.3M in 'spot' bonuses handed out during Pence's last year

INDIANAPOLIS -- During Mike Pence’s last year as Indiana Governor, 4,655 state employees received spot bonuses totaling $2.3 million dollars.

The bonuses are intended to reward and recognize outstanding performance “on the spot.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels launched the program in 2006 to promote and reward increased efficiency and performance in state workers, but it's up to each agency whether to award the bonuses.

The “spot bonus” awards allocated to state employees in 2016 range from $25 to $8,950, according to records obtained by Call 6 Investigates.

The Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles handed out the most spot bonuses of any state agency, with INDOT issuing 936 bonuses and the BMV handing out bonuses to 728 workers.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is one of the largest state agencies with nearly 3,600 employees whose responsibilities include managing a $1.5 billion annual construction program, 28,800 highway miles and 5,690 bridges, according to INDOT spokesperson Will Wingfield.

“INDOT uses the state’s bonus program to recognize exceptional performance in four categories: achievement, leadership, lifesaver and the “right stuff”, which includes urgency, initiative and ownership,” said Wingfield. “Employee groups have been recognized for reopening state highways after crash damage – including the Rockville Road bridge over I-465 – and quickly implementing a matching grant program for local governments created by recent legislation.”

BMV spokesperson Dennis Buterbaugh said the spot bonus program helps the agency “drive performance toward reaching agency initiatives.”

“These incentives help us to continue delivering the quality customer service Hoosiers have come to expect from the BMV,” said Buterbaugh.

At INDOT, the state agency that handed out the most spot bonuses, they must go through a series of approvals including the nominator’s supervisor.

“The recognized employee must be employed for at least six months, not be on a work improvement plan and have demonstrated high performance resulting in measurable improvement,” said Wingfield. “INDOT encourages supervisors to make monetary and non-monetary recognition public within that employee’s work group. This is an opportunity to discuss what type of results warrant recognition."

CLICK HERE | Spot bonuses in 2016 Note: The agency listed may be the department that issued the bonus or where the employee currently works. 

In December, Governor Pence also authorized pay for performance raises.

“Indiana would not be a state that works without the dedication and commitment of our state employees,” said Pence in December. “I am privileged to work alongside the Hoosiers who are the force behind the outstanding services and support the people have come to expect from their state government, and I am thankful for the opportunity to offer these raises based on performance for a job well done.”

Employees who met expectations received a 2 percent raise, those who exceeded expectations got a 3 percent raise, and those rated outstanding received a 4 percent raise.

Records show 1 percent of employees were rated outstanding, 15 percent exceeded expectations, 78 percent met expectations, 3 percent needed improvement and 3 percent did not meet expectations.

CLICK HERE | Pay for performance increases

The state has spent $73.5 million on performance pay over the last two years, according to Indiana State Personnel Department spokesperson Ashley Hungate.

“The state general fund covers 60 percent of this cost. An estimated 40 percent is paid by either federal or dedicated funds,” said Hungate.

Governor Eric Holcomb plans to continue the spot bonus program as well as the pay for performance raises.

“Yes, this administration plans to continue incentivizing good government service and rewarding our highest performing employees,” said Stephanie Wilson, spokesperson for Holcomb.

Indiana ended 2016 with less tax revenue than was predicted; however, forecasts call for growth during the next two-year budget cycle. 

The tax revenue forecast includes 2.9 percent growth, or $437.3 million, in FY2018 vs. the current fiscal year, 2017.

It expects revenue to increase 3.9 percent, or $606.2 million, in FY2019.

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