Senate panel calls for report on law enforcement pay

The Senate Governmental Affairs on Wednesday called for a report on pay parity and benefits among the different federal law enforcement agencies to address recruitment and retention challenges.

The bill (S. 1683) would require the Office of Personnel Management to submit a report to Congress by April 30, 2004 on the different pay and benefit scales at federal law enforcement agencies and recommendations to eliminate disparities between different agencies. The committee approved the measure on a voice vote.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio-chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee, which has oversight of federal agencies, including the 44 federal law enforcement agencies-introduced the bill in September to review pay and benefits for the 129,000 law enforcement officers to "explore ways to stabilize recruitment and retention efforts."

After the Transportation Security Administration was created in 2001, many officers took jobs with the new agency due to its higher pay and better benefits, which left other federal agencies "short handed and competing for recruits," Voinovich said in a statement on the bill. He also said the Department of Homeland Security's new flexible personnel system could further attract officers from other agencies and create additional recruiting and retention challenges.

The bill also establishes an employee exchange program between federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to encourage the exchange of best practices and maintain a well-trained workforce.

The legislation is endorsed by the national Fraternal Order of Police and the FBI Agents Association, according to Voinovich.

"This legislation will help to advance efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of America's federal law enforcement officers," Chuck Canterburry, national president for the Fraternal Order of Police said in a Sept. 26 letter to Voinovich.

In September, Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., introduced a similar bill (H.R. 3205) in the House.

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