Someone I know wrote this…

To Whom it May Concern:

This is the first time I have been pushed to make contact with a Representative of Congress, regardless of the issues of the day. I have served faithfully and honorably to those appointed above me. But this issue hits home for me and my family as I am a career Border Patrol Agent with 18 years of civil service and 16 years of military service. I believe that I have EARNED AT LEAST A MOMENT of your time.

I and my fellow agents have been under attack for this whole administrations time and it seems that only a few of the ELECTED representatives have stood by us, the Guardians of this Great Countries Borders. We have taken salary hits that have caused us to go backwards in respect to the economy and inflation. Now we sit here waiting to see if we will be sold out again, but not just with a one or two percent loss of pay, but with a 30% pay cut.

You might not understand what this means, so let me explain it in simple terms that a reasonable person can understand. It means that agents will go from being able to provide a living wage for their families to causing them to file for chapter 7 or 13 just to prevent a total loss of what their families have. It means that if they have children in special needs schools or paying tuition for higher education, they will not be providing this for them any longer. It means that instead of being able to help out their neighbor in times of need, they will be holding on to what they have by a thread. It means that they will go from meeting their financial obligations to defaulting on them just to provide a meal for themselves and their family. It means that we will be going from being a productive part of society to a burden on society. By no means are we asking for more than what we have earned as our job is a bit more dangerous than that of the average American, I would even venture to say that it’s a bit more dangerous than that of a member of Congress.

I have been shot at, almost run down, exposed to hazardous waste (TJ River, arsenic slag, sewage treatment plants), arrested people who did not exactly want to be arrested, been injured conducting my duties and for this I have undergone knee and lower back surgery. Needless to say that once I retire I will always have a memory of my career since I will never fully recover from these injuries/operations.

I’m asking where you stand?  Do you feel that a 30% pay cut is what is needed to help balance the deficit? Is the Border Patrol the only agency that is being sacrificed for this corrective action that we had nothing to do with?  Our agency is taking the lion’s share of the cuts.  How is that fair?  Do you believe what the heads of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are telling you?  WE are YOUR first line of defense!

If this cut back in hours/pay is not prevented, our economy and way of life will be affected negatively for generations to come. Border Security is not an issue that should be toyed with or tested.

Very Respectfully,

A Concerned Citizen

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CBP Inadequate…No, Really?!?!

Read the whole thing (which I did) or read the highlighted parts.  Congress fully funded BP and remains staffing levels with no reason for furlough or AUO cuts.  So.. CBP, what’s up with that?!?!?!

Via Local Union 2554

for expenditure of all funds no later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act

and to include DRF transfers in the CFO’s monthly budget execution reports submitted to

the Committees, which shall satisfy the requirements for notification of DRF transfers

under a general provision in Title V of this Act.

 

Integrity Investigations

 

Within the total provided, an increase of $3,000,000 is provided for integrity

investigations. The fiscal year 2013 expenditure plan should identify the total funds

dedicated to integrity investigations and their intended purpose.

 

GAO Review

 

The Committees are concerned that the current organization of the OIG may not

allow for adequate independence of the OIG’s inspections and evaluations function, and

that current organizational reporting lines hinder the timely and complete delivery of

information to OIG leadership.  Recent developments at OIG that have left many senior

positions occupied by acting heads have adversely affected OIG’s ability to manage its

growing workload, and raised questions about its effectiveness and reliability in

conducting investigative operations for which it has been assigned unique jurisdiction

within DHS.  This has occurred at a time when the workload for OIG is growing,

compounded by the need to address the potential of fraud associated with ever increasing

disaster assistance and the highly sensitive issue of integrity investigations in the

Department, particularly with regard to border security operations.  GAO is directed to

undertake a review of (1) the organizational structure of the OIG; (2) how OIG is

organized to report the results of audits, investigations, and inspections and evaluations;

and (3) whether these functions are properly placed within the organizational structure of

OIG to ensure compliance with applicable independence standards.  The review should

be completed by December 1, 2013.

 

 

TITLE II—SECURITY, ENFORCEMENT, AND INVESTIGATIONS

 

U. S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION

 

SALARIES AND EXPENSES

 

A total of $8,293,351,000 is provided for “Salaries and Expenses.”  The funding

level reflects changes in the activities supported by this appropriation.  In addition, the

bill institutes a new PPA structure and distribution for greater accountability.

 

The bill provides $315,000,000 in appropriated funds to rectify CBP’s salary

shortfall, created by the flawed budget request that incorrectly assumed CBP access to fee

revenues and demonstrated inexcusably poor budget development by CBP.  Specifically,

the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2013 assumes that CBP has access to

$110,000,000 in fee revenues pursuant to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement’s

elimination of certain exemptions to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation

Act of 1985 (COBRA) fees.  While the fees are being collected today from travelers

entering the United States, the fees are not accessible to CBP.  Further, the shortfall

created by this inaccessibility persists annually until fiscal year 2022. The Department is

directed, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to include a

means of access to these fees in the fiscal year 2014 budget request and beyond, with

appropriate offsets.  The gap cannot be filled by appropriated funds and trade-offs within

CBP accounts into the future.

 

Compounding this deficit, CBP failed to adequately estimate its salary needs for its

operational workforce resulting in an estimated $214,000,000 shortage in fiscal year

2013.  After months of unanswered questions from OMB, DHS, and CBP, the House

Appropriations Committee undertook an audit of CBP’s budget development and

execution processes that revealed significant weaknesses.  The Department is directed to

ensure the fiscal year 2014 request fully funds CBP’s operational workforce and mission

needs.  Further, the Committees will continue to work with CBP in the coming months to

ensure the weaknesses are addressed.

 

The CBP funding level reflects savings and deferments proposed by CBP to reduce

the shortfall, including:  $50,000,000 in rent savings and deferrals; $10,000,000 in project

reprioritization and cancellations taken from Facilities Construction and Sustainment; and

$35,889,000 from deferment of vehicle replacement.  While the Committees are

concerned about longer term deferment of vehicle replacement, CBP currently has a

sufficient, well-maintained fleet for fiscal year 2013.  CBP proposed other, internal

offsets that were wholly unacceptable.  No funds are included for the Joint Operations

Division created by CBP in 2011.

 

The amount provided under this heading does not include the full amount requested

for a civilian pay raise.  Should the President provide a civilian pay raise for 2013, it is

assumed that the cost of the pay raise will be absorbed within existing appropriations for

fiscal year 2013.  However, to avoid exacerbating CBP’s pay shortfall, the bill provides

$19,558,000 across the appropriate PPAs and in the “Air and Marine Operations”

appropriation as a contingency for a potential pay raise to cover operational personnel.

Should the President decide not to institute the pay raise, CBP shall apply those funds to

other operational needs, in accordance with a general provision in Title V and with

appropriate notification to the Committees.

 

The bill also restructures the Headquarters Management and Administration PPAs to

provide greater visibility into CBP’s expenditures, as outlined in the House report.  The

new PPA structure is provided in the table listed below.  In the fiscal year 2014 budget

request, CBP is directed to distribute the working capital fund expenditures among the

PPAs as appropriate to reflect the actual costs to each CBP office rather than including a total in the Administration PPA.

 

Further, funds in existing PPAs across the “Salaries and Expenses” appropriation are

redistributed to more closely align to offices, as outlined in the House report.  For

example, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is funded for its activities in the

Automated Targeting Systems (ATS) and Inspection and Detection Technology

Investments PPAs, in addition to the funds in the “Automation Modernization”

appropriation that now contains OIT’s salaries and expenses.

 

Border Security Inspections and Trade Facilitation (Inspections) is funded at

$3,206,458,000, including $215,000,000 to address part of the salary shortfall noted

above; $5,747,000 for prior year annualization of CBP officer staffing enhancements;

$14,076,000 for annualization of CBP officer staff for new ports of entry and enhanced

operations; $10,000,000 as requested for enhancing intellectual property rights

enforcement efforts; $13,032,000 to re-baseline the Container Security Initiative;

realignment of funds to the Other International Programs PPA from International Cargo

Screening; and consolidation of funds into the ATS and National Targeting Center PPAs

to more fully display the costs of those activities.  Other International Programs is

reduced by $2,218,000, as recommended in the Senate report.  As included in the House

report, $12,284,000 is provided to the Office of Field Operations for its entry-exit policy

and operations responsibilities.  CBP is expected to maintain no less than 21,775 CBP

officers, a number adjusted by CBP from prior year targets to account for all CBP

officers as intended.

 

Border Security and Control between Ports of Entry is funded at $3,705,735,000,

which reflects an $8,000,000 decrease to transfer responsibility for detainee medical costs to ICE, $11,500,000 in cost savings for detainee transportation, $100,000,000 to address part of the salary shortfall noted above, and full funding for the Office of Border Patrol and the Joint Field Command.  This level continues to support a Border Patrol agent force of 21,370.

 

The Air and Marine Operations PPA is moved to the “Air and Marine

Operations” appropriation and renamed the Salaries and Expenses PPA.  As outlined in

the House report, the PPA does not include funds for the Joint Operations Division and

the Joint Field Command.

 

The Committees reject the proposal to move the United States Visitor and

Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) from the National Protection and

Programs Directorate (NPPD) to CBP.  Instead, the bill realigns the policy and

operational responsibilities of US-VISIT while retaining the information technology

systems in a new Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) in NPPD discussed

later.  CBP has long been subject to limitations, terms and conditions on overtime funds

that are carried in the Salaries and Expenses appropriation.  Funds moved from the

Salaries and Expenses appropriation into the “Automation Modernization” and “Air and

Marine Operations” appropriations are still subject to those limitations, terms and

conditions.

 

The amount provided for the “Salaries and Expenses” appropriation by PPA is as

follows:

 

Headquarters, Management, and Administration:  

Commissioner ………………………………………………………………………..  $17,415,000

Chief Counsel ………………………………………………………………………..  43,078,000

Congressional Affairs ……………………………………………………………..  2,568,000

Internal Affairs ………………………………………………………………………  154,108,000

Public Affairs ………………………………………………………………………..  12,563,000

Training and Development ………………………………………………………  77,721,000

Tech, Innovation, Acquisition ………………………………………………….  26,004,000

Intelligence/Investigative Liaison …………………………………………….  68,156,000

Administration ……………………………………………………………………….  414,674,000

Rent ……………………………………………………………………………………..  564,871,000

Subtotal …………………………………………………………………………………  1,381,158,000

 

Border Security Inspections and Trade Facilitation:

Inspections, trade, and travel facilitation at ports of entry ……………  2,718,654,000

Harbor maintenance fee collection (trust fund) …………………………..  3,274,000

International cargo screening …………………………………………………..  71,487,000

Other international programs ……………………………………………………  24,799,000

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) …………..  43,069,000

Trusted Traveler programs ………………………………………………………  10,811,000

Inspection and detection technology investments ……………………….  117,565,000

Automated Targeting Systems …………………………………………………  113,826,000

National Targeting Center ……………………………………………………….  68,127,000

Training ………………………………………………………………………………..  34,846,000

Subtotal …………………………………………………………………………………  3,206,458,000

 

Border Security and Control between Ports of Entry: 

Border security and control ……………………………………………………..  3,631,796,000

Training ………………………………………………………………………………..  73,939,000  

Subtotal …………………………………………………………………………………  3,705,735,000

Total, Salaries and Expenses ………………………………………………………….  $8,293,351,000  

 

Financial Plan

 

CBP is directed to submit its fiscal year 2013 financial plan by office no later than

30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, consistent with the new distribution and

PPAs.  Additionally, CBP shall include the working capital fund estimates by office and

PPA.

 

 

Management of User Fee Revenues

 

CBP has not demonstrated the ability to manage fluctuations in fee funding levels.

Given that approximately 37 percent of CBP officers are funded by user fees, the failure

to properly project and manage these fees has a significant operational impact – not only

on CBP but on the traveling public and on our national security posture.  To address these

failures and to assist the Committees in their oversight, the Commissioner is directed to

take the actions required by the House report on user fee management.  In addition, as

required by the Senate report, CBP shall brief on the use of APHIS fee revenues and

report on steps to advance its relationship with port authorities on staffing.

 

Fee Balances

 

As directed in the House report, CBP shall report on the final determination

regarding the availability of $639,400,000 in unobligated fee balances and the path for

eliminating them from CBP’s financial statements. Unfortunately, these funds are not

accessible to CBP; however, the agency has not responded adequately to the question of

availability raised by GAO.

 

Innovation and Facilitation

 

CBP is directed to continue considering and instituting innovations to more

efficiently process legitimate travel and trade, such as those outlined in the House report.

Further, the bill provides funds above the request toward this end, including $10,000,000

for preclearance operations and $2,500,000 for improved signage and information about

the entry process, as recommended in the Senate report, and $4,500,000 for Global Entry

expansion, kiosks, and promotion, as recommended in the House and Senate reports.  No

later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, CBP shall brief the Committees

in detail on its full fiscal year 2013 funding for these activities as well as the use of the

increased funds.

 

Workload Staffing Model

 

The Department is directed to immediately submit the CBP workload staffing

model for Field Operations required by the joint explanatory statement accompanying

Public Law 112-74.  This report, which has languished in a bureaucratic clearance “do

loop,” is necessary for a responsible dialogue on CBP mission needs, including any

demonstrated staffing needs.

 

Cargo Security Strategy

 

The bill provides an additional $3,000,000 for the Customs-Trade Partnership

Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program to ensure audits of participants are conducted as

needed based on a risk determination.  No later than 60 days after the date of enactment

of this Act, CBP shall brief the Committees in detail on its full fiscal year 2013 funding

for C-TPAT as well as the use of the increased funds.

Further, the Committees concur with the direction and concerns outlined in the

House report regarding the cargo security strategy and look forward to seeing the

Secretary develop and propose a meaningful alternative to 100 percent scanning.

 

 

Targeting

 

The bill provides an additional $3,000,000 for National Targeting Center (NTC)

operations to cover pre-adjudication vetting of visa applicants.  No later than 60 days

after the date of enactment of this Act, CBP shall brief the Committees in detail on its full

fiscal year 2013 funding for NTC as well as the use of the increased funds.

As required in the House report, CBP is directed to provide a detailed accounting

of funds executed by the Targeting Analysis Systems Project Office no later than 30 days

after the date of enactment of this Act.  CBP shall also include an annual update of this

information with the President’s budget request.

 

Entry-Exit Policy and Operations

 

CBP is the DHS lead for entry-exit policy and operations, as recommended by the

House.  Responsibility for implementing a biometric exit program lies with CBP.  Within

120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, CBP, in conjunction with OBIM and any

other appropriate partners, such as the Science and Technology Directorate, shall report

to the Senate Committees on Appropriations, the Judiciary, and Homeland Security and

Governmental Affairs and the House Committees on Appropriations, the Judiciary, and

Homeland Security on the Department’s tangible progress in implementing an enhanced

biographic exit system and biometric exit planning.  The report shall include the results

of the Canadian pilot programs and provide an update on the Mexican pilot program.

The Committees on Appropriations shall be briefed semiannually on exit thereafter.

 

Border Patrol and Border Security between Ports of Entry

 

 CBP shall submit a report to the Committees no later than 90 days after the date

of enactment of this Act on its five-year staffing and deployment plan for the Border

Patrol.  In addition, the budget justification for fiscal year 2014 shall include a plan

detailing staffing and funding for the Northern Border.  Further, CBP is prohibited from closing Border Patrol stations in Texas, as proposed in the budget request.  CBP and ICE have not produced a transition plan to ensure the immigration enforcement needs of local sheriffs will be supported without a Border Patrol presence.

 

Joint Field Command Structure

 

While CBP allocated funds within its budget for the Joint Field Command (JFC),

it is important to reassess the cost-benefit of operating the JFC, particularly as CBP

considers other joint operation and coordination structures and confronts enormous

budget challenges.  The need for operational coordination within CBP is no less

imperative than its coordination with ICE, Coast Guard, and other law enforcement

agencies active in a particular area of responsibility.  Therefore, CBP is directed to brief the Committees, no later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, on all plans, milestones, and costs for establishing and operating joint field efforts, as required in the House report.  In addition, the brief shall include the cost-benefit of operating the JFC.

 

Integrity Programs

 

The bill supports CBP efforts to reduce and prevent corruption, as well as ensure

that its ethics, integrity, and conduct programs include training at all stages of an agent’s

or officer’s career.  Over the past five years, as the Federal law enforcement presence on

the Nation’s borders has increased due to major increases in hiring of Border Patrol

agents and other law enforcement officers, Congress has provided resources above the

Presidents’ requests for the OIG, CBP, and ICE to ensure that a greater level of scrutiny

is focused on preventing officer corruption and enhancing training on public integrity.

Given these efforts, combined with the full implementation of the Anti-Border

Corruption Act of 2011 (Public Law 111-338), sufficient funds were requested in the budget and are provided by this Act to continue rigorous attention to public integrity of DHS law enforcement personnel.  CBP is expected to work with OIG and ICE to

aggressively investigate reports of fraud and to provide continuous integrity training to

current as well as new employees.  CBP is directed to continue briefing the Committees

on a semiannual basis on integrity efforts, per the House report.  In addition, GAO is

directed to report on CBP’s integrity program no later than 120 days after the date of

enactment of this Act, as required in the House report.

 

Workers’ Compensation Plans

 

CBP is directed to brief the Committees on its progress in implementing the OIG

recommendations and related issues, as required by the House report, no later than April

3, 2013.

 

Preventing Human Trafficking

 

The Committees strongly support DHS efforts to broaden human trafficking

awareness, including through CBP’s Blue Lightning Initiative.  In lieu of the level

recommended by the House, CBP shall fund its Blue Campaign efforts, as requested, and

brief the Committees, as required by the House report.

 

Training

 

Per the House report, CBP is directed to brief the Committees on its corrective

action plan and the status of implementation of recommendations contained in GAO-12-

269, not later than April 3, 2013.  In addition, GAO is directed to follow up on its

findings one year after its release to identify progress that has been made and any

 

AUTOMATION MODERNIZATION

 

A total of $719,866,000 is provided for “Automation Modernization.”  Of that

amount, $394,340,000 is for Information Technology, which includes salaries and

expenses for OIT; $138,794,000 is for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE);

and $186,732,000, as requested, is for Current Operations Protection and Processing

Support.  As provided in a general provision in this Act, CBP is required to submit an

updated multi-year investment and management plan for all funds executed by OIT that

are now largely consolidated in “Automation Modernization.”

 

The amount provided under this heading does not include the requested funding for a

civilian pay raise.  Should the President provide a civilian pay raise for 2013, it is

assumed that the cost of the pay raise will be absorbed within existing appropriations for

fiscal year 2013.

 

Briefings

 

CBP is directed to continue briefing the Committees on a quarterly basis on ACE

progress, including the information directed by the House and Senate reports.  CBP and

ICE are directed to jointly brief the Committees on the status of TECS modernization

efforts, as required by the House and Senate reports, on a semiannual basis with the first

briefing no later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

 

BORDER SECURITY FENCING, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND TECHNOLOGY

 

A total of $324,099,000 is provided for “Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure,

and Technology” (BSFIT).  No funds are provided for further environmental mitigation

efforts with the Department of Interior.

 

The Committees remain concerned about the lack of progress in deploying critical tools and technology that the Border Patrol clearly needs to secure the border.  The

schedule for awarding a contract for Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT) as well as to upgrade

and purchase Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) continues to slip.  In fact,

CBP’s schedule does not show full deployment of RVSS and IFT before fiscal years

2014 and 2016 respectively – years after the original timelines.  Given these delays, CBP

is directed to continue quarterly briefings and weekly notifications on procurement

actions, as directed in the House report.  In addition, CBP is currently evaluating

proposals submitted for IFT, a process that shall include a demonstration evaluation.

After the demonstration phase, CBP is directed to brief DHS leadership, OMB, and the

Committees before a contract award for IFT that would specify the number and pace of

deployments.  The briefing is not intended to involve procurement-sensitive information;

rather the focus is on understanding CBP’s intention regarding the number and pace of

deployments rather than vendor-specific information.

 

As of October 1, 2012, CBP has $400,000,000 in prior year unobligated balances

in BSFIT in addition to the funds provided for fiscal year 2013.  As a result, the bill

includes a rescission of $73,232,000, to ensure that funds do not languish unused for

years.  As recommended in the House report, those funds are applied to CBP Air and Marine operations, supporting a significant increase in proposed flight hours.  These funds will provide immediate border security operational benefit while enabling CBP to maintain its IFT investments and deployments as currently planned.

AIR AND MARINE OPERATIONS

 

A total of $799,006,000 is provided for “Air and Marine Operations.”  The

funding includes $283,570,000 for a new Salaries and Expenses PPA moved from the

CBP “Salaries and Expenses” appropriation; $397,399,000 for Operations and

Maintenance to restore flight hours, including to restore unmanned aerial systems (UAS)

flight hours above the fiscal year 2011 level; and $118,037,000 for Procurement.  The

procurement funds include an additional $21,500,000 for purchase of an additional multi-

enforcement aircraft; $39,000,000 for the service life extension of the P-3 fleet; and

$18,567,000 for enhanced sensor capabilities for UAS.

 

The amount provided under this heading does not include the full amount requested

for a civilian pay raise.  Should the President provide a civilian pay raise for 2013, it is

assumed that the cost of the pay raise will be absorbed within existing appropriations

 

OBP and CBP…Enforcing our Nations Laws?

AUO is gone…losing 25% of pay…poorhouse, here we come!

images-1google images

Actually, if you are an Agent…depending on the state you live in…you could qualify for unemployment if you are furloughed.  It remains to be seen if the furlough process is going to continue…but hey, with the way this administration has been…you can suck it up for the good of the agency, right?  (Insert eye roll here.)  Check with your local Union rep…see what they can help you with.

Snicker…snort.  Yeah, ‘Ol Janet Napolitano says our borders are secure…by what measure?  You want the stations to inflate their numbers of apprehensions, but don’t want them to tell about the get-aways and go arounds.  You hinder Agents the ability to do their CONGRESSIONALLY MANDATED JOBS.

You want concrete immigration reform?  ENFORCE IRCA 1986!!!!!!!  (Gentle reader, click on the link and read the law.)

Cheers!

Silly CBP, Trix are for kids!

So…in en effort to “Help” Border Patrol Agents deal with the stress of not only their jobs, but also the sequester and AUO cuts, CBP or Customs and Border Protection thought that these would be a “good” idea to show to Agents.

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BFsHPRjCQAE_UGz.jpg-large
These were posted at stations across the United States.
Who’s crackhead idea was this???  Um…Agents are not going to be obedient.  In fact, that basically goes against everything they have learned out in the field.  You continue to work until you catch your group or you lose the sign.  You continue to push until you cannot anymore…and then you push on through that.  These guys hump (walk/track) for hours, they lay up on spots for hours, they run: through the dead of night into terrain that normal folks would not walk out in the day…they work 10+ hour shifts in the blazing summer heat and the freezing winter cold.  There is NO obedience in that.
I particularly love the suicide one.  That’s fantastic.  Seriously???  Are you kidding me???
After Agents complained about the Orwellian-like signage (1984, anyone?) they were taken down.
I can tell you, the new catch phrase at every station is going to be “Obedience.”  True story.

 

Sequestration: What it means for my family

My husband is in federal law enforcement.  It has been a long almost 17 years (he will have put in 18 years in June).  There have been many tears…many fears…many times I have wondered, will my husband come home tonight?  We have been threatened, yelled at and looked down upon.  He has been injured on the job with little compensation for his injuries.  It is not an easy life.  We have almost lost each other…when the job became more important than family.  We came back together and GOD became our focus and life has been smoother.  Not easy.  Never easy.  But more focused now that we have a focal point. (GOD)

So, with all this talk of sequestration…all the pundits talking about how it WILL NOT effect that many families; that this is just a scare tactic; that the cuts are good because we as a country need to cut spending…they are not looking at individual agencies and what they will face.

My hubby works for an agency that will take the lions share of the budget cuts within his main organization.  They are estimated to take 87% of their agency’s budget cuts.  To be exact, the main agency is looking at $285 million dollars worth of cuts with $245 million coming directly of his agency’s budget.  What does that mean for us and approximately 21,000 other families?  We are expected to take a 25% pay cut.  We are also going to be furloughed for 14 days…and this will be one day a pay period until the end of the fiscal year.  This penalizes us up to 40% in lost wages.  Would YOUR family be able to sustain a 40% pay cut for a few weeks?  A month?  Half a year?

Unlike other furloughed time periods for this agency, we will not recover any lost wages.  The last furlough was in 1995 and agents were given back pay because they were required to work those days even though they were not getting paid.  I personally, don’t have a problem with the furlough.  We can afford the furlough…seriously.  If 21,000 agents take a 1 day furlough over the course a set time period, say till the end of the fiscal year, it would save the agency close to $100,000,000.00.  That is 1 HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS.  Are we willing to do that for our country? YES!  Can the main agency as a whole make up the additional $185 Million in cuts without dipping their greedy little fingers into the agents remaining pay?  YES!  There are programs that are redundant (as in any government agency).  There are ineffective programs which make absolutely no sense.  And there are programs that can be cut back without negatively affecting the agency’s mission.

On one report this morning, I heard that my husband’s agency was going to lose their overtime.  Not a big deal, right?  Who cares, it’s overtime…right?  Well the problem with that is that it is NOT overtime in the traditional sense of the word.  Overtime is usually 1 and 1/2 times your regular pay.  So, if you make $10 an hour, overtime would pay your $15.  Not so with my hubby’s agency.

His “overtime” is discretionary anywhere from 10% to 25% of a base calculation.  If an Agent works 9+ hours of AUO within a 2 week pay period, they receive 25% of pay based on a GS 10-1 salary.  If they work less than 9 hours, then it is goes down from there.  If they work less than 4 hours of AUO in a pay period, they could become “de-certified” and are NO longer eligible for AUO.  So, that means if they have a case that they are working…and after their 8 hour shift they work another 6 hours…they will not get paid for those additional 6 hours.  Would YOU work at a job like that?

Here is a simplified AUO Calculation explanation based on an AUO case out of El Paso, Texas (you can read the case if you click on the link):

AUO pay is computed by application of a formula based on the number of AUO hours worked over a period of time to compute a weekly average of AUO hours. See id. at 6. The computation is applied on a sliding scale so that if an employee averages: (1) at least three, but not more than five hours of AUO per week, the employee receives 10% of his/her base pay; (2) between five and seven hours per week, 15%; (3) between seven and nine hours per week, 20%; and (4) nine or more hours, 25%. See id. Where an employee is off work for holidays, sick or annual leave, training, etc., with no opportunity to perform AUO, it would penalize the employee to include the “off” hours in computing the weekly average. See id. Thus, the concept of “excludable days” is applied, whereby time spent on leave or engaged in other activities, such as training, are excluded from the number of workdays used to compute the daily average of AUO hours. See id. “

Here is what OPM or Office of Personnel Management has to say about AUO and LEAP, another type of compensatory pay:

Appendix E

OVERVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVELY UNCONTROLLABLE OVERTIME PAY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AVAILABILITY PAY

Administratively Uncontrollable
Overtime (AUO) Pay
Law Enforcement
Availability Pay (LEAP)
Authorized by 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(2) and 5 CFR 550.151 through 550.163 Authorized by 5 U.S.C. 5545a and5 CFR 550.181 through 550.187
Paid to Border Patrol Agents and certain other employees (mainly in the Department of Homeland Security) Paid to criminal investigators or other approved law enforcement officers
Discretionary 10 to 25 percent pay supplement Entitlement to fixed 25 percent pay supplement
AUO is paid for all irregularly scheduled overtime work (i.e., not scheduled in advance of the workweek) Paid for (1) all irregularly scheduled overtime work, (2) any regularly scheduled overtime work that is part of the first 2 overtime hours on a regular workday, and (3) certain non-work hours during which employee is placed in availability status
AUO rate is based on the average number of hours of irregular overtime work performed per week (e.g., a 25 percent rate is authorized for an average of over 9 hours per week of irregular overtime work) Employees are eligible for LEAP only if they have an annual average of 2 or more hours of unscheduled duty per workday
If employees are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, as amended, they are entitled to receive an extra half rate for irregular overtime hours in addition to AUO pay LEAP recipients are not covered by the FLSA
AUO pay remains subject to the biweekly premium pay cap, even while other types of premium pay may be simultaneously subject to an annual premium pay cap LEAP remains subject to the biweekly premium pay cap, even while other types of premium pay may be simultaneously subject to an annual premium pay cap
AUO pay is considered basic pay for purposes of retirement benefits only for law enforcement officers;  Entitlement to retirement-creditable AUO pay is based strictly on the definition of “law enforcement officer” at 5 U.S.C. 8331(20) and 8401(17) LEAP is considered basic pay for purposes of retirement benefits, life insurance, and severance pay

Clear as mud, right?

AUO is an administrative overtime.  It is a crap way of being paid for the same amount of work.  If you receive a case in your 7th hour of your 8 hour day, you will be required to continue to work the case…but YOU WILL NOT BE PAID the same amount of pay for the 8th hour going into the 9th, the 9th rolling into the 10th or the 10th rolling into the 11th etc.  You don’t get time and a half.  What you get is a portion of your salary based on a calculation formula from the 1970’s.  One benefit of AUO is that is good for retirement purposes as stated in the chart above.

Anyway, I digress.  Other federal law enforcement agencies get paid LEAP or Law Enforcement Availability Pay.  That is fine.  They actually receive 25% up front, but they could potentially lose money based on their agency and how they deal with overtime and how many hours.  A detriment of LEAP is being on call-out hours and not getting paid for those hours once your 50 hour work week is done.  One nice thing about LEAP is that they could actually get paid OVERTIME.  Like, real-time and a half, overtime.  But again, that is at the discretion of the agency they work for.

For the type of work my husband does, I am not a fan of LEAP.  But, I am also not a fan of my family losing anywhere from 25% to 40% of our salary because the government cannot get its head out of its butt.

So…before you think that these agencies need to cut back…need to have this happen…look at the individual families it will affect.  We buy groceries, we buy clothes, we buy gas.  We are a part of your community and we spend money.  It’s not just us.  It’s all the businesses that depend on us to purchase from them.  It’s our communities and our tax base.  Our kids go to your schools.  Less money means less spending.  Period.  It could mean foreclosure and bankruptcy for many families.  Sigh.  It is THAT BIG.

My biggest issue with this sequestration is that it is not fair.  The across the board cuts ARE fair for all agencies.  From what I have read, most agencies are expected to cut 6% from their budgets.  Okay, I get that.  But within those agencies, and in our particular agencies case, taking 87% of that cut makes absolutely NO SENSE!

We have contacted our state representatives.  We are signing petitions.  But unless anything changes by Friday, March 1st, I will be looking for a job to help my family recoup that loss.  You know anyone hiring?

The one thing that is sustaining me, us…is God.  He is so faithful.  And I know He will be there for us.  Any hardship we face is nothing like the hardship His Son endured for us.  We are taking this as a growing moment.  A time to fully grasp our faith and walk it.  And yes…we have railed too.  Not at God.  Actually, we have thanked Him for answering prayers and giving us this glorious life.  We have railed at a government that is trying to reign in systematic abuse by screwing their employees.  Don’t actually fix the real problem…no…let’s just put a band-aid on it because that always solves everything.  YAY!  {<—-lots of sarcasm there}

Blessings be on you today, gentle reader.  God IS Good!