Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The RCMP in 2010: bonus worthy?

Surprising news yesterday: "$1.6M in extra pay for RCMP brass."
RCMP top brass took home more than $1.6 million in extra pay in 2009-2010.

According to documents provided by the RCMP, the Mounties' six deputy commissioners were paid a total of $224,419 in at risk pay and bonuses, which when divided equally, works out to a little over $37,000 each. The force paid its 33 assistant commissioners a total of $358,296 in extra pay last year and its 77 chief superintendents an additional $1,033,101.
These seem to be the criteria for bonus pay, with discretion given to the RCMP Commissioner:
A spokesperson for the RCMP says the Commissioner has authority over the additional payments but bases his decisions on the Treasury Board's performance management program for executives. The Treasury Board defines at risk pay as a percentage of an individual's salary based on the successful achievement of commitments. Bonuses are also a lump sump payment "based on the individual's demonstrated performance that has surpassed expectations."
Now was this a federal organization deserving of pay bonuses in 2010? Theoretically, bonus pay is a reward for good performance. Is this an organization that Canadians would look at and think, hmmm, 2010 and the RCMP...bonus pay should blanket the leadership?

Consider the bare bones performance of the RCMP in 2010. A year that saw the Braidwood inquiry find that RCMP officers' taser use on Robert Dziekanski was not justified. A year that saw the G20 with the abuses of civil rights that occurred, with the RCMP's conduct producing complaints and now being probed in a resulting inquiry. It was also a year that saw dissent and infighting at senior levels of the RCMP with a workplace assessment being undertaken, to boot. All of these are things that one would think would normally factor in when the consideration is made about whether the leadership had surpassed expectations and such.

So maybe there should have been some more thought given to the optics of these bonuses by the Harper-handpicked Commissioner. Beyond the performance issues, it is supposedly a time of fiscal austerity in Ottawa, as we are told on occasion (mostly when it is politically opportune for the government). There's a disconnect here, with a squeeze being put on public servants, Defence department employee numbers being scrutinized, yet the RCMP seems to be immune. Strange.

The Commissioner's ability to exercise discretion here due to his own difficult tenure also seems to be relevant. If he said no to bonuses, would that make his tenure still worse?

From the public perspective, this looks like an exercise of judgment worth questioning.