It has been exposed that James Runcie, the senior Obama Education Department official, who resigned in order to avoid testifying before Congress got hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses despite his well-documented failures. Of course, there is no ‘legal’ trace of the extra cash, which was kept off the books, away from the public, and doesn’t appear on his official government salary record. The official was in charge of the scandal-plagued Federal Student Aid (FSA) office, the government’s $1.4 trillion financial aid program. He administered more than $150 billion in loans, grants and work-study funds which were supposed to help students pay for college.
Among pervasive fraud and corruption at the FSA, Runcie’s scandal involves skirting federal rules to hire friends and family and hefty off-the-books cash bonuses despite the FSA’s documented transgressions. The Education Department Inspector General told Congress that the FSA made an astounding $6 billion in improper payments in 2016 alone as part of federal student aid programs such as Pell Grant payments and the Direct Loan program.
Runcie was scheduled to testify at the same hearing before the House Subcommittee on Government Operations. Instead, he resigned abruptly to avoid congressional scrutiny. He even tried to portray himself as the victim of a new administration that wants to dismantle the FSA. In a resignation memo obtained by an online news outlet, Runcie wrote:
“I CANNOT IN GOOD CONSCIENCE CONTINUE TO BE ACCOUNTABLE AS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER GIVEN THE RISK ASSOCIATED WITH THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT AT THE [EDUCATION] DEPARTMENT.”
He went on to write that he has been “consistently on record and clear about not testifying at the upcoming hearing on improper payments” and that he had “not heard a single compelling reason” the Education Department would need him to testify.
High-ranking government official revealed that, under Runcie’s leadership, there was a “massive amount of corruption.” FSA has a special hiring authority called administratively determined (AD), which permits it to hire outside of the normal competitive federal hiring process.
“ACCORDINGLY, IT IS BEING ABUSED TO HIRE WHOEVER THEY WANT IN ALL SORTS OF POSITIONS,” A VETERAN EDUCATION DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL SAID. “IT IS BEING USED TO HIRE FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND DIRECTLY AVOID HIRING VETERANS UNDER THE VETERANS’ PREFERENCE.”
Another government official, who works at a different agency but deals with FSA regularly, said its hiring practices permit it to “hire people outside the General Schedule (GS) and set their pay abnormally high.”
The federal government’s public employee salary website only lists Runcie’s annual salary from 2010 to 2015 and lists $0 in the bonus category for each year. In 2010, his salary was $176,500 and increased slightly over the years, topping off at $183,300, reports Judicial Watch.
What was hidden from the public record is that, despite his office’s many failures, Runcie got “insane” bonuses. Here is the annual breakdown: 2010—$33,535; 2011—$38,350; 2012—$60,000; 2013—$75,000; 2014—$75,000; 2015—$75,000; 2016—$76,000.
That means that, while his office was losing billions of taxpayer dollars to fraud and corruption, Runcie was secretly rewarded with cash bonuses by his employer, Obama.