Lawmakers Propose Overhaul to Border Agent Pay Structure

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents patrols along the Rio Grande in 2009. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents patrols along the Rio Grande in 2009. Eric Gay/AP file photo

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday formally introduced a plan to overhaul the pay structure for U.S. Border Patrol agents, attempting to standardize compensation while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced the bill -- which would give Border Patrol agents three pay schedule options -- in the Senate, while Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, put it forward in the House. The agents’ overtime payments came under fire recently when the Office of Special Counsel reported widespread abuse, with employees claiming overtime they did not actually work. 

Border Patrol agents would be able to choose to work 100, 90 or 80 hours per two-week period. Any amount worked between 80 hours and the schedule they choose would be compensated as overtime, or time and a half. And any amount exceeding the total agreed upon hours in a pay period would be rewarded through compensatory time off.

This plan would eliminate Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime, a more generous package that allowed agents to double dip into overtime compensation when the extra hours were unplanned. The National Border Patrol Council, the border agents’ union, has defended AUO, saying, “Patrolling the border is an unpredictable duty that often requires agents to go above and beyond the eight-hour shift to effectively protect the country.”

NBPC has admitted the current pay structure is “bloated,” however, and endorsed the new proposal.

Shawn Moran, an NBPC spokesman, told Government Executive last week the union supports the bill because it is preferable to the alternative of Law Enforcement Availability Pay. LEAP, which many other federal law enforcement officers receive, provides compensation for a maximum of 100 hours per pay period, regardless of how many hours an employee works.

“Our fear was anything past the 10th hour [per day] and they are working for free,” Moran said, adding the Chaffetz-McCain-Tester bill would eliminate this concern.

Tester originally attempted to attach a similar provision to the immigration reform bill as it was moving through the Senate, but it was not ultimately included.

“A common-sense pay schedule that provides stability for agents and their families is something I hear about every time I visit the border,” Tester said. “Establishing this new pay schedule will make our borders more secure and save taxpayer dollars.”

Tester and McCain estimated the bill would save $1 billion over 10 years. Tester, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, has scheduled a hearing in December to examine overtime abuse. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.