Days after a report that city employees made more than $1 million in bonuses last year, the City Council on Tuesday asked for a report on how they are divvied out.

City executives had defended the long standing practice as an important means of ensuring high quality work among the public workforce, and have pointed out that some groups of employees — such as police officers — are not eligible for the merit bonuses because they aren’t negotiated into their union contracts.

“That’s the way it needs to be to keep a high standard in our city,” Mayor Anja Reinke said.

Still, the council called for “careful discussion” of the program, and asked for information about how it was operated. Included in the report due early next year will be an overview on spot bonuses for projects versus end of year evaluations, and the evaluation process.

The council also asked for information on the history of the merit-based bonuses and how long the city has awarded them.

“This is a very important sensitive issue,” said Councilman David Gordon. “Is there a possibility that bonuses are given for something other than merit? I want to know the process.”