On February 19, 2013, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) received official notice from Customs and Border Protection (Agency) regarding the Agency's proposed sequestration plan. The Agency intends to implement these plans if Congress does not do what is necessary to avoid sequestration. Included with this message is a copy of the notice that details the proposed cuts for the Office of Border Patrol (OBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) and Office of Air and Marine (OAM). Some of the cuts outlined in the notice include: decertification of administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO), furloughs, a reduction of travel expenses, and assigning two agents to a vehicle.
While it is great to finally receive a notice from the Agency that actually contains some information, the NBPC would like to address a false statement that appears in the beginning of the notice. The statement leads one to believe that the NBPC failed to respond to the invitation to engage in discussions regarding fiscal uncertainty. This statement is a blatant lie, and NBPC representatives are in possession of email correspondence that proves it. Fortunately, when confronted about their lie, the Agency agreed to retract this erroneous statement.
Nevertheless, one only needs to read the proposal to see the “uniformity” assertion is absurd considering Customs and Border Protection officers (CBPOs) will continue coverage under the Customs Officer Pay Reform Act (COPRA). Meanwhile, Border Patrol agents will be converted from Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) to Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), exempt from earning Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and still excluded from coverage under COPRA.
For this reason, the National Border Patrol Council created the following chart to address the frivolous assertion regarding uniformity and illustrate the significant disparity in potential overtime earnings under current systems and increased disparity under the proposal. The figures in the chart are based on the Office of Personnel Management locality pay table for the San Diego geographic area. Therefore, potential earnings will be different in other geographic areas.
Although all CBPOs may not average two hours of overtime per day, Border Patrol agents are required to work an average of two hours per day in order to maintain 25% under LEAP and AUO. Therefore, the figures for each pay grade calculate potential earnings for employees using an average of two hours of overtime per day for all employees. For clarification, COPRA provides 200% rate of pay for each hour worked beyond the regular eight-hour day. AUO only provides approximately 140% for each hour worked beyond eight hours, up to the first two hours. After two hours, the percentage decreases for each additional hour worked.
Lastly, COPRA provides substantially higher percentages for differential pay to compensate for work performed on Sundays and during night hours, to include more hours of coverage for night differential. COPRA also provides a one to five percent rate of pay for language proficiency, depending on the score an employee receives when tested. None of these differentials were included in the figures. If one were to include the different differential pay in the calculations, the disparity would be far greater than what is illustrated on the below chart.
High resolution PDF file: Pay Reform Comparison Chart or click on the chart below to view a larger image.
Below is a link to the initial compensation reform proposal by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP officials said the proposal changed last year, but would not provide a copy of the revised plan to representatives of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC). The Department of Homeland Security did not provide a copy of this year's proposal to the NBPC nor did they consult with the NBPC prior to submitting it to Congress for consideration for fiscal year 2013 budget. Although the NBPC has an alternative plan, DHS, CBP, and the U.S. Border Patrol management have consistently refused to consider the alternative.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Compensation Reform Plan
Description of DHS plan: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pay reform plan would substitute Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) for the current system of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) pay for all Border Patrol agents. This would eliminate all compensation for work beyond 10 hours a day and force them to work for free.
The DHS plan claims it will achieve uniformity in the current overtime system; however, that is not possible when DHS intends to leave Customs and Border Protection officers under the Customs Officer Pay Reform Act (COPRA). CBP officers receive COPRA overtime for all hours worked beyond eight hours a day, which doubles their normal pay rate for overtime worked.
Disadvantages of DHS compensation reform plan:
• Requires Border Patrol agents to work for free beyond ten hours a day.
• Allows the agency to schedule agents to work an infinite amount of hours for ZERO compensation.
• Reduces agents’ pay by an average of $7,000 a year (the only group of employees singled out for this sacrifice).
• Reallocates the so-called savings of $110 million to fund more unnecessary levels of management and increased salaries for each level.
• Further lowers morale.
NBPC Recommendation to Congress: Demanding that employees work for free is grossly unfair to frontline Border Patrol agents and their families. All federal law enforcement agents make sacrifices every day to uphold the laws of the United States, however this plan singles out Border Patrol agents asking them to go above and beyond. To date, 114 agents have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, more than any other federal agency.
On behalf of the 17,000 Border Patrol agents represented by the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), Congress is urged to reject this ill-conceived proposal. The NBPC has developed an alternative plan that saves the government money, reforms the antiquated overtime policy currently used and protects the dedicated men and women of the United States Border Patrol.