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DHS Leadership's Hasty Suspension of AUO

FLEOA OBJECTS TO DHS LEADERSHIP’S HASTY SUSPENSION OF AUO

Washington, DC – Today, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) announced its opposition to a DHS decision to suspend Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) pay for headquarter and training personnel. According to FLEOA, DHS leadership buckled to congressional pressure while implementing a perilous directive that places numerous law enforcement officers immediately under economic duress.

In a message to ICE employees on January 28th, Acting Director Sandweg stated, "Although the internal review is still pending, DHS has taken an initial important step by ordering the suspension of AUO for the following  categories of employees (HQ and Training Personnel)." FLEOA's response to this message is: "While you failed to complete a comprehensive review and assessment of AUO and the impacted positions, why were you compelled to bypass the sanctity of due diligence and snatch money from law enforcement officers' pockets."

A DHS spokesperson attempted to justify the AUO suspension by stating that the department is ensuring the "...proper use of taxpayer funds." That statement lacks credibility given the timing of DHS's decision. FLEOA questions where this alleged commitment to tax payer funds was prior to Congress expressing its concerns. Rather than prematurely suspend the financial lifeline for many law enforcement officers, DHS should have first completed a thorough review of the system and its oversight as relates to AUO.

According to FLEOA National President Jon Adler, "The Acting ICE Director and DHS leadership are drawing from the "Wile E Coyote" management guide: one aspect of a system doesn't work, so they scrap the entire system. After these law enforcement officers endured a three‐year pay freeze and the impact of sequestration, don't they deserve the professional courtesy of a comprehensive review before siphoning 25% of their pay?"

FLEOA recognizes the importance of the findings in the report released by the Office of Special Counsel, and doesn't advocate for the indiscriminate issuance of AUO pay. However, FLEOA asserts that DHS should have implemented better oversight on the AUO process rather than cower to Congress and simply eliminate pay from the impacted groups.

Adler added, "The work performed by both headquarter personnel and training components is vital to the sustained operations and level of preparedness for DHS. By arbitrarily eliminating their AUO pay, DHS is giving itself two flat tires. Accountability isn't accomplished through the impetuous financial decapitation of law enforcement officers. It's accomplished by a professional examination of existing procedures, an analysis of current workloads and schedules, and a review of best practices by other agencies."

FLEOA also expressed concern regarding DHS's failure to engage law enforcement stakeholder groups prior to announcing its rash decision to curtail AUO. In the ICE Acting Director's AUO message, he alludes to working with "labor relations partners" in the future. Unfortunately, that's as meaningful as offering to buy body armor for an officer after you fatally wound them.

FLEOA is respectfully asking DHS Secretary Johnson to rescind the suspension of AUO pending the results of a comprehensive review of the relevant factors. DHS headquarter and training personnel are taxpayers too, and depriving them of one quarter of their livelihood without a due diligence review is unjust.

FLEOA remains ready to work with DHS leadership to resolve this critical issue through a transparent process that is credible in its approach and methodology. We are not going to balance the budget and eliminate the deficit by starving the men and women who defend our homeland.

 

News Coverage In Support of FLEOA's Defense of AUO for DHS Components

CQ HOMELAND SECURITY
Feb. 3, 2014 – 1:50 p.m.
Law Enforcement Association Asks DHS to Undo Overtime Freeze By CQ Staff

A law enforcement group accused Department of Homeland Security officials on Monday of cowering before Congress in the decision last week to suspend overtime pay for some department employees.
"DHS leadership buckled to congressional pressure while implementing a perilous directive that places numerous law enforcement officers immediately under economic duress,” the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said in a written statement.

Before department officials testified to a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee last week on allegations of overtime abuse within the department, DHS announced the freeze of overtime allowances for training instructors, those working in headquarters offices and anyone accused of abusing the overtime system.

The association argues that directive was hastily made under pressure from Congress and should be reversed until the department completes an internal review of its so-called administratively uncontrollable overtime system, or AUO.
"While you failed to complete a comprehensive review and assessment of AUO and the impacted positions,” the association said, "why were you compelled to bypass the sanctity of due diligence and snatch money from law enforcement officers’ pockets?”

Given the timing, the group said, the department’s argument that overtime allowances were suspended to ensure proper use of taxpayer funds "lacks credibility.” "FLEOA questions where this alleged commitment to tax payer funds was prior to Congress expressing its concerns,” the group said. "Rather than prematurely suspend the financial lifeline for many law enforcement officers, DHS should have first completed a thorough review of the system and its oversight as relates to AUO.”

The Office of Special Counsel reported last fall that investigations of whistle-blower allegations suggest that department employees have wasted an average of at least $8.6 million each year by abusing overtime rules. The federal investigative office has been looking into complaints that some Customs and Border Protection employees routinely claim overtime work that does not meet overtime rules and that employees in the department’s situation room claimed overtime hours while watching television or otherwise relaxing during that time.

While the law enforcement group recognizes the importance of the report’s findings, the association said, the department "should have implemented better oversight on the AUO process rather than cower to Congress and simply eliminate pay for impacted groups.”

The association said Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s promise to work with labor groups as the department works on the overtime issue is "as meaningful as offering to buy body armor for an officer after you fatally wound them.”