The Federal Worker Who Most Deserves a Bonus

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A federal agent at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden received a bonus equivalent to one-third of his normal annual salary, reports Russ Ptacek of Washington's 9 News Now. The disclosure, which appears to be a result of nice investigative work by the local Washington news team, is also a timely counterargument to complaints about out-of-control worker compensation. 

In the Friday report, the White House confirmed to Ptacek that the agent was rewarded for doing the "satellite imagery interpretation and intelligence" work to track bin Laden. The imagery work is said to be fundamental to the construction of a model of bin Laden's compound that was used in the White House at "senior level briefings." It also snagged the agent the Presidential Rank Award, which doles out one-time bonuses to federal employees of as much as $63,000. "That enabled us to pinpoint, find, and conduct the raid on Osama bin Laden, which is rather amazing," Senior Executives Association spokeswoman Carol Bonosaro, who represents senior government officials, said about the agent's work. "I think it's unfortunate that the American people don't know what they do."

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Well now the American people know— and just in time. The disclosure comes as the Obama administration takes heat for shelling out $439 million in bonuses last year, a statistic revealed by a recent Freedom of Information Act request. It was the kind of thing that prompted Fox News headlines like this: "Federal Workers Raking in Millions in Bonuses, New Database Shows" 

Counterargument: These bonuses are going to all-star employees who do things like track down bin Laden. What did you do at the office last year?

Interestingly, the agent's work was just declassified this week. The model compound was put on display in the Pentagon and on Wednesday the Associated Press published images of it:

Reporting on the model on Wednesday, ABC News' Luis Martinez said it was built by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency who "used overhead satellite imagery to create a 3-D view of the compound in painstaking detail." 

"Built over the span of six weeks the styrofoam model was made to scale and shows the walls and infrastructure inside the compound’s walls," he wrote. "Every shrub and piece of ivy lining the walls seen in the satellite pictures is accurately represented in the model.  The model’s scaling is one inch represents 7 feet."

Now that's how you earn a bonus. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.