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Fed Workforce Reduction and Reform Act

August 10, 2011

The Honorable Orrin Hatch
104 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Coburn
172 Russell Senate office building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sirs:

I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), to express our views with respect to the Federal Workforce Reduction and Reform Act of 2011, S. 1476. In the event our nation is suddenly faced with a serious national security emergency, public safety hazard, or environmental event requiring rapid response the legislation as currently drafted creates a potential for disaster.

Specifically, we are concerned that if federal law enforcement agencies experience cuts to full time employee positions that are equivalent to those your bill calls for in the rest of federal service (i.e. a 15% reduction from fiscal year 2011 numbers), those cuts will cripple our ability to deal with the threats our nation faces every day. Across the board cuts to federal law enforcement by 15% would mean the loss of nearly 15,000 federal officers by the beginning of fiscal year 2022. That reduction, combined with the 75% reduction to travel authorizations as outlined in the bill, would place our federal officers in greater danger, impede their ability to fulfill their mission and place the American people at greater risk. Just as this bill excludes the Defense Department from inclusion with regard to travel limitations, this and all future bills relating to reduction of federal service or reductions to pay and benefits, must exclude federal law enforcement if we are to have a safe environment for the future growth of our economy.

Although we fully understand the current need for fiscal reform, that reform simply cannot be placed on the backs of our federal law enforcement officers or the agencies they work for. The Federal Workforce Reduction and Reform Act of 2011 calls for an additional freeze on federal salaries and bonuses until December 31, 2014. Federal law enforcement officers, like no other federal employees, have mandatory retirement at age 57 and cannot simply ride out the pay freeze. As a result, the reward for placing themselves in harm’s way for the security of our nation is to flat line the calculation of their retirements. This is a calculation that will remain with them for the rest of their lives and would be a sad commentary on the dedicated service they provide.

Although the 75% reductions in government travel costs would not apply to the Department of Defense, they will apply to federal law enforcement agencies whose travel budgets are a key element of investigation and enforcement operations. Federal agents travel frequently, often on short notice and under arduous conditions while performing their duties. Why federal law enforcement is not excluded from the travel reductions is the obvious question.

Those in the law enforcement community know that in order to deal effectively with national emergencies, public safety, and environmental catastrophe we need to have people trained, equipped and in place before the those events occur. The recruitment and training period for many or our federal law enforcement personnel can be as long as three years with a selection process, academy training, and field training. Some of the more specialized officers can take as long as five years to be fully trained. There are currently about 105,000 federal law enforcement officers in the United States. A 15% reduction in that force would equate to about 15,750 positions. In the event of a serious catastrophe or national security threat it will be impossible to replace 15,750 federal law enforcement officers overnight. This "handful of simple reforms,” may very well leave the American people empty handed when dealing with the most serious threats they face today.

Recruitment and retention of the best qualified candidates to federal law enforcement positions will become much more difficult given the suggested salary freeze until December 31, 2014. Many of the best applicants to federal law enforcement come from state and local law enforcement and the military. With salaries already frozen, and possibly more reductions looming in the distance, federal service is becoming a much less attractive employment option to them. A reduction to the number of full time positions in federal law enforcement will result in inadequate oversight of federal programs and thereby will increase fraud, waste and abuse at a time when we can least afford it. Asset forfeiture and money judgments against violators are at their highest point ever. This proposal would see the ranks of law enforcement officers reduced resulting in fewer seizures, lower money recoveries and lost opportunities in discovering fraud.

It is imperative that the United States Congress begins to view federal law enforcement in the same light that it does our Military, as a "Mandatory” priority. Federal law enforcement is one of the legs on which this nation stands. If we are to have a safe and healthy environment in which our economy can grow, we must supply our federal law enforcement officers with the staffing and equipment they need to get the job done.

FLEOA has been the voice of federal law enforcement for over thirty years. We stand ready to assist you with federal law enforcement issues and we urge you to give our comments careful consideration.

Sincerely,

Jon Adler
National President