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Are some DHS components abusing overtime payments to some of their employees?

Senator Jon Tester

A Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing on December 10 to examine the question of whether certain components of DHS are allowing some of their employees to seek compensation for overtime hours, even when they’re not technically eligible for such overtime.

The hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs and the federal workforce will take place in room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and begin at 2:30 PM, according to a notice released by the full committee. That subcommittee is chaired by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).

“On October 31, 2013, the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a report to the President detailing ‘long-standing abuse of overtime payments by the Department of Homeland Security’,” explained the committee’s notice. The report reveals that, for years, Homeland Security employees have abused a fund meant to compensate workers who must sometimes stay on duty beyond normal business hours, such as law enforcement officers responding to criminal activity.”

Despite a 2008 investigation and subsequent pledge from DHS officials to rein in on the misuse of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO), the OSC report shows that numerous agencies within the department continue to allow their employees to illegally claim overtime pay, the notice says. It is estimated that the practice is costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

This hearing seeks to examine the instances of AUO abuse raised in the Special Counsel’s Report, and to learn more about how DHS and CBP are responding to the recent investigative report, what disciplinary actions are being taken, and what additional cases of payroll fraud have been discovered.

Scheduled witnesses include Carolyn Lerner, Special Counsel, U.S. Office of Special Counsel; Ron Vitiello, Deputy Chief, Customs and Border Protection; Catherine Emerson, Chief Human Capital Officer, DHS; and Brandon Judd, President, National Border Patrol Council.