The Office of the U.S. Trustee is objecting to Borders Group Inc.'s attempt to pay executives and other high-level employees more than $8 million in bonuses, calling it a "disguised retention plan for insiders" that shouldn't be approved this early in the case.

In a Thursday filing, the U.S. Trustee's Office -- the Justice Department agency charged with overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases -- said it had no information with which it can evaluate the economic viability of the bonus plans, which call for 17 Borders executives, 25 "director-level" employees and other "key" employees to divide $8 million in bonuses.

"Seeking the approval of the bonus motion at this early juncture, prior to the debtors' finalizing their business and operational plans is not a sound exercise of the debtors' business judgment," lawyers for U.S. trustee Tracy Hope Davis said in the filing.

The trustee also said Borders should have provided names, positions and reporting relationships for the nonexecutives who would be covered by the plans.

Borders's executive bonus plans calls for executives to get up to $7.1 million, while the "key employee" retention plan would give director-level employees a total of $933,000. An additional $300,000 would be awarded on a discretionary basis.

Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said, "The proposed programs were designed to retain key executives at Borders as we proceed through the Chapter 11 reorganization process, and we are actively working to address the questions that have been raised."

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday in front of Judge Martin Glenn of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Bonus packages for companies in bankruptcy are common, as companies try to create incentives for executives to stay.

Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., filed for Chapter 11 in February after struggling with increasing competition for its products and the changing ways that today's digital consumer reads books.

Earlier this week, Borders presented a business plan to publishers and landlords that included slashing costs and moving its headquarters from Ann Arbor to the Detroit metro area. Publishers went into the meeting in a skeptical frame of mind, and said afterwards they remained concerned about the bookseller's strategy for growth.

Borders is eager for publishers to speedily resume shipping new titles on traditional trade terms rather than cash. The bookseller hopes to file its reorganization plan this summer, with the intention of emerging from bankruptcy by fall.

—Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg contributed to this article