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EMPLOYEES WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT DUTIES
REPORT TO CONGRESS
Chart 8: Statistical Analysis of Combined Age Distribution
20 23 26 29 32 35 38 41 44 47 50 53 56 59 62 65 68 71 74 78
It is apparent that the two groups have two distinctly different age distributions. The LEO group appears more clustered around a central point, but the distribution is also skewed away from a normal distribution to the left. The non-LEO group shows less clustering but also shows a more level distribution overall, born out statistically by its skewness statistic (completely normal distributions have a skewness statistic of zero).
The LEO group has an age standard deviation of 7.5, and the non-LEO group has a standard deviation of 10.6. The standard deviation is another measure of the spread of the ages in the distribution, with the LEO group being more closely clustered around the mcan age than the non-LEO group. This point of divergence betworn the two groups further indicates dissimilarity in the distribution of ages. Examination of the age distribution charts suggests that individuals in the LEO category are skewed overall toward being younger, while individuals in the non-LEO are more evenly distributed across the range of ages. The distinctions in the two patterns are more evident when the distributions are shown together.
From: Staff of the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization
Date: July 23, 2003
Lessons Leared from Staff Visits to Various Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
On June 16 and 18, 2003, four staff members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization traveled to Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Ysidro, and Otay Mesa, California, to explore personnel management issues affecting federal law enforcement agencies.
June 16, 2003
Staff Visit to the Los Angeles International Airport
The staff of the Subcommittee met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for an initial briefing. Larry Fetters, Acting Federal Security Director at LAX, provided an overview of DHS operations at the airport, which is the largest origination/destination airport in the world, and performs the most screening of any airport in the system. It handles 30 million passengers per year and 155,000 pieces of luggage per day.
Although DHS has authority for 2,405 screeners at LAX, it has only about 2,200 employed, all of whom have fixed, full-time schedules. DHS managers expect to receive authority to hire part-time employees to increase scheduling flexibility. They added that the Department now has about 55,000 airport screeners nationwide and that this number is expected to be reduced by about 6,000. Some of the reductions will result from new background reviews now being conducted on new employees who were hired during the rush to staff up. The Department is also removing people at LAX for excessive absenteeism and abuse of the traveling public. When DHS fires a screener, it places him or her on administrative leave while the human resources office considers any disciplinary action, but the employee has no formal appeal rights besides filing complaints of discrimination. Department officials stated, however, that there is a "quasi-grievance" procedure where the employee has the opportunity to explain and discuss the issues before being finally dismissed. Screeners enjoy whistleblower
A minority staff member from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform participated in the activities that took place on June 16, 2003.
protections, like other Federal employees, and may file complaints with the Office of Special Counsel.
Screeners are not law enforcement officers within the meaning of title 5 of the United States Code. Mr. Fetters explained that local law enforcement officers, from both the LAX police force and the Los Angeles Police Department, have performed arrest and apprehension duties. DHS offers a $5,000 stipend for employees to relocate to California. The Lockheed Martin company has the training contract for all of the Transportation Security Administration and maintains an offsite training center near LAX.
One problem in managing the screener work force has been that some 100 screeners are assigned to support duties, including the human resources office. TSA has only two full-time human resources professionals to service the entire screener work force.
The Department's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) includes the investigative agents of the legacy Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service. The Associate Special Agent in Charge of legacy INS and Resident Agent in Charge of legacy Customs described their operations and stated that the transition to the Department of Homeland Security was going smoothly. Their units are comprised of investigative law enforcement officers and they have not had any particular staffing problems, but they noted that the cost of housing in California is a major concern. Agents are usually hired at grade 5 or 7 of the General Schedule (sometimes higher, depending on qualifications) and work their way up to the journeyman level of grade 13. Their appraisal process uses a pass/fail system. Both officials said they believe there are no morale or attrition problems due to pay issues. However, it was stated that the organization would benefit from a pay for performance system because it would allow management to use pay to encourage good workers and motivate lower performers.
The LAX Port Director for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP), described the vast challenge facing her organization: it must deal with three types of activity at LAX: air cargo, international air mail, and international passengers. Last year, 7.3 million international passengers passed through customs and immigration inspections. This number was down from the previous year's 8.1 million, but is expected to grow in the near future.
BCBP at LAX employs about 1000 inspectors among legacy Customs (about 350), INS (about 350), and Agriculture (about 150), all of whom are represented by unions as members of separate bargaining groups. Managers confirmed that the differences in overtime pay entitlements for these groups presents a challenge to unifying them under the new organization. Also, the performance appraisal system for BCBP employees at LAX varied by legacy organization: Customs uses a pass/fail system, INS a 5-level system, and Agriculture a point system. At present this organization's staffing is slightly over the authorized level because BCBP has been hiring for projected attrition. Management is not opposed to the creation of a pay for performance system, but would be concerned about the potential for an increase in grievances and EEO complaints that might arise. At least half of the inspector work force at LAX are dues paying members of unions.
Following this briefing, staff members were given a tour of DHS operations at LAX, observing primary and secondary customs and immigration inspections of passengers, as well as agricultural inspections and pre-flight baggage and passenger screening operations. In particular, staffers were given a demonstration of the x-ray machinery that is used for passengers who do not want to be touched during secondary inspections. The machinery uses a low level of radiation to allow inspectors to see through the traveler's clothing and detect contraband. Other methods are used for interdiction of contraband that has been swallowed or otherwise concealed inside the traveler's body.
Staff Visit to the Port of Long Beach
In the afternoon of June 16, 2003, officials escorted the staff members to the Port of Long Beach, for a demonstration of the VACIS equipment used to inspect for contraband inside containerized cargo. Without having to enter the container, inspectors can view an image created by the equipment - scanning from outside the container - and displayed on a computer screen. The inspectors can recognize anomalies in the cargo that may reflect contents that are not as described on the lading document, triggering the need for manual inspection of the entire contents of the container. The Port is a vast operation covering thousands of acres of freight containers, presenting clear problems for the Department and its ability to cover a large amount of freight.
Staff Visit to the FBI Office on Long Beach, California
On the evening of June 16, 2003, Subcommittee staff members met with about 25 FBI Special Agents from the Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco offices to discuss what they termed an "immediate crisis” in the high-cost-of-living areas. Each agent discussed his or her particular financial difficulty, most of which stemmed from being unable to purchase a home without obtaining significant help from friends or family or having a working spouse. An informal survey taken of agents in the San Francisco office revealed that the majority of San Francisco agents rent rather than own their own property.
A look at the San Francisco area serves as a telling example of the disparity in pay between federal and state and local law enforcement agencies. The highest salary a starting FBI Agent in San Francisco can make is $59,200 (this includes locality and availability pay); whereas, the starting salary for a rookie at the San Francisco Police Department is $75,000. Moreover, unlike San Francisco police officers, FBI agents are not permitted to moonlight. The median cost of a single-family home in San Francisco, as of May of 2002, is $439,000. The maximum amount a family can afford with an
income of about $59,000 is approximately $205,000, more than half of the going rate for an average small home.
The agents described how they are sinking into debt and compromising their retirement plan by not putting in the full amount in order to make ends meet. Most of the agents are living month to month and cannot save any money. Moreover, because of the great financial constraints put on the agents in these high cost of living areas, many of them are forced to commute long distances. Not only do long commutes strain family life since the agents are already working ten plus hours a day in this post September 11" era, but they can also result in delayed response time to an emergency situation. In addition, because the FBI requires highly trained individuals with special skills and advanced degrees, most agents are hampered with significant student loans.
The agents all agreed that the locality pay method is “outdated” and “egregious.” The agents explained that agents in some cities, like Houston, get a larger amount of locality pay than the agents in San Francisco even though the cost of living is not as high as it is in San Francisco. The agents pointed out that although there may not be a demonstrated retention problem yet, many agents in these high-cost of living areas are contemplating transferring to a different office or leaving the FBI altogether. Moreover, the agents stated that in the high-cost metropolitan areas the experience level drops dramatically because experienced agents are transferring to less costly areas. The agents further explained that this "brain-drain” is particularly disturbing since the FBI depends heavily on experience. One San Francisco agent said that the FBI couldn't even get people to manage in the San Francisco office. Although the recruitment numbers may not demonstrate such a problem, the agents stated that they are having a very difficult time recruiting "star performers," who would like to work for the FBI but could not take a significant cut in pay.
The agents clearly demonstrated a significant morale problem. The agents made clear that they are not trying to get rich - but just trying to make a decent living and "provide for our families.” The agents just want to be able to live the "American dream” by being able to purchase a home and not live “paycheck to paycheck.” The agents pleaded that something needed to be done and all seemed to endorse H.R. 1676, which was introduced this Congress (108th) by Congressman Mike Rogers (Michigan).
June 18, 2003
Staff Visit to the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Point of Entry
On Wednesday, June 18, 2003, Subcommittee staff began the day at the San Ysidro Point of Entry with officials under the Border Transportation Security Directorate headed by Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson. We met with personnel from both the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE).