Legislation Introduced to Reform Border Patrol Pay Structure
Following the release of an Office of Special Counsel report on Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) abuse by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced legislation to address the issue.
Legislation in the Senate, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013 (S. 1691), was introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and John McCain (R-AZ). Companion legislation, the Border Patrol Pay Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 3463), was introduced in the House by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
The lawmakers say that reforming Border Patrol compensation will provide agents with more reliable pay and work schedules.
The proposed legislation allows Border Patrol agents to select between three pay schedule options: 1) working 100 hours with 20 hours of overtime, 2) working 90 hours with 10 hours of overtime, or 3) working 80 hours with no overtime per two-week pay period. Hours worked exceeding the agreed upon hours in a pay period would be rewarded with compensatory time off.
The legislation is supported by the National Border Patrol Council, the professional labor union representing over 17,000 Border Patrol agents and staff.
Sponsors of the legislation say that overtime reform will save CBP $7,000 per agent in lower overtime costs while giving the agency the ability to legally schedule agents for shift changes. If passed, the reforms would save CBP $125 million per year, or $1.25 billion over a decade.
“We are looking to bring more consistency to those who risk their lives everyday protecting the border. This new pay scale is a long term solution that will iron out the kinks of the current system through old-fashioned planning and time management. These changes will both reduce opportunities to abuse the system and provide compensation for unanticipated emergencies such as capturing criminals,” said Rep. Chaffetz.
"A common-sense pay schedule that provides stability for Agents and their families is something I hear about every time I visit the border," said Sen. Tester. "Establishing this new pay schedule will make our borders more secure and save taxpayer dollars.
"Spending cuts due to sequestration, coupled with an archaic and inefficient pay scale, put at risk the safety of Border Patrol Agents and threaten to reverse much of the progress these agents have made along the border over the last few years," said Sen. McCain. "This legislation stabilizes and restructures the border patrol pay scale, allowing agents to put in the hours needed to secure the border while saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year."
At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the subject this week, Rep. Chaffetz praised whistleblowers who spoke out about AUO abuse while criticizing those who carried it out.
“We’re not talking about people who are actually on the border. We’re talking about desk jockeys at headquarters,” who “milk the system and steal from Americans,” Chaffetz stated.