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Frances Dolan, Director of Human Relations Policy, Department of
Van Hollen, Hon. Chris, a Representative in Congress from the State
Letters, statements, etc., submitted for the record by:
Bonner, T.J., president, National Border Patrol Council, prepared state-
Federal Officer's Committee, Fraternal Order of Police, prepared state-
of Illinois, prepared statement of
Letters, statements, etc., submitted for the record by—Continued
Savage, Nancy, president, Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents Asso
ciation, prepared statement of
and Administration, Department of Justice, prepared statement of Souder, Hon. Mark E., à Representative in Congress from the State
of Indiana, prepared statement of Van Hollen, Hon. Chris, a Representative in Congress from the State
Performance Policy, Office of Personnel Management, prepared state-
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL IN THE POST SEPTEMBER 11 ERA: HOW CAN WE FIX AN IMBALANCED COMPENSATION SYSTEM?
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2003
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL
SERVICE AND AGENCY ORGANIZATION, JOINT WITH THE
Washington, DC. The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Jo Ann Davis (chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization) presiding.
Present from the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization: Representatives Davis of Virginia, Mica, Souder, Davis of Illinois, Van Hollen and Norton.
Present from the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources: Representatives Souder, McHugh, Mica, Davis of Virginia, Carter, Cummings, Davis of Illinois and Norton.
Staff present: Ron Martinson, staff director; Chad Bungard, deputy staff director and chief counsel; Vaughn Murphy, legislative counsel; Chris Barkley, legislative assistant/clerk; Robert White, director of communications; John Landers, detailee from OPM; Stuart Sims, legal intern; Steven Isbister and Taylor Copus, interns; Tony Haywood, minority counsel; Christopher Lu, minority deputy chief counsel; Tania Shand, minority professional staff member; Earley Green, minority chief clerk; and Teresa Coufal, minority assistant clerk.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. The Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization and the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources will come to order.
We are going to have a series of votes somewhere around 10:30, so we are going to go ahead and start; and hopefully by the time I finish my opening statement we will have the rest of the panelists. If not, we will start with the distinguished Members that we have.
I want to thank you all for being here, and especially I want to thank Chairman Mark Souder for agreeing to hold this joint-hearing. Unfortunately, he is called to the floor, but he will be here shortly.
Law enforcement compensation is a very important subject; and there is great interest in today's hearing, as evidenced by the number of witnesses that we've scheduled. Due to time constraints, I would remind witnesses that their entire prepared statements will be entered into the record and ask them to keep their opening statements to 5 minutes or less if possible. We're also going to ask that only the chairman and the ranking members of the subcommittees make oral statements, and other Members who have statements will be submitted into the record.
I want to begin by thanking everyone for being here today and especially again thank Chairman Mark Souder for agreeing to hold this joint hearing. Our subject today is a vitally important topic, one that is of great concern to me: How do we make sure we are paying our Federal law enforcement agents properly?
On one hand, it is impossible to address adequate compensation for people who put their lives on the line for the American public every day. There's no proper monetary reward for such work. But, at the same time, we must recognize that members of the FBI, Border Patrol, Customs and Immigration, Secret Service and all our other Federal law enforcement agencies do not live and work in a monetary vacuum. There are thousands of local and State police forces and sheriff's offices out there, and there is a market for skilled officers, agents and criminal investigators. In this area, as in so many others, we must make sure that the Federal Government is not falling behind in the race for talent.
Several factors complicate the question of pay for Federal law enforcement officers. First is the question of whether the current pay scale is meeting the needs of law enforcement officers in high-cost of living areas such as San Francisco, southern California, Boston, New York and the Washington, DC, area. There is strong anecdotal evidence that we are having difficulty keeping or recruiting talented officers in those high-cost metropolitan areas. This is very worrisome, especially given the importance of our big cities in fighting crime and terrorism.
Second, there is a larger question of who is considered a law enforcement officer, who is not and who should be. Federal law enforcement officers [LEOs), receive enhanced pay and retirement benefits. FBI agents, DEA agents, Customs criminal investigators, Border Patrol agents and Secret Service criminal investigators are among those defined as LEOs. Customs inspectors, Immigration inspectors and Department of Defense police are among those who are not.
The benefits given to "law enforcement officers” began with FBI agents in 1947 and were quickly expanded to include any Federal employee whose position primarily deals with the investigation, apprehension or detention. It now also includes anyone who comes in frequent and direct contact with Federal inmates and, in some cases, agents who protect Federal officials.
The designation of law enforcement officer, however, is clearly a flawed term. The enhanced benefits were—and are—a management tool designed to strike a balance between helping certain agencies maintain a young and vigorous work force while compensating those agents adequately for being required to retire early.
But the end result is that many people who are clearly law enforcement officers by the plain meaning of that term do not meet the standards of law enforcement officer in terms of earning these enhanced benefits. That is confusing—if not insulting—to a Federal agent who carries a gun and who risks his life everyday but is told that he or she does not deserve the same benefits that many other officers receive.
Fortunately, the creation of the Homeland Security Department crystallizes these issues in a way that may lend itself to reform. To site just one example, the merging together of Customs inspectors from the former Customs Service, Immigration inspectors from the former INS and the agriculture inspectors from APHIS into the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has created situation where coworkers progress up the GS scale differently and work under different overtime and availability rules. Homeland Security also has a large number of those Federal agents who are not considered law enforcement officers but who do have arrest authority.
DHS is working with the Office of Personnel Management to determine a solution to these disparities and is scheduled to come back by the end of the year with some recommendations, a process that I hope will help us solve some of these complex problems.
We are joined by the ranking member of Chairman Souder's Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Drug Policy, and I would like to recognize Elijah Cummings to see if he would like to give an opening statement.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Jo Ann Davis follows:]