February 15, 2006
Marlon Allen
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Criticizes 'Concept Paper' on Law Enforcement System

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today said it opposes a congressional staff proposal that would transfer authority and decision-making over pay and other personnel issues for Customs and Border Protection officers from Congress to the federal Office of Personnel Management.

The ideas outlined in the “Concept Paper for a Federal Law Enforcement Personnel System” would do little to enhance the safety or security of the nation or provide incentives to attract and retain highly qualified individuals to perform critical federal law enforcement jobs, AFGE National President John Gage.

Gage recently wrote to two congressional subcommittee chairmen to oppose the ideas recommended in the concept paper. AFGE’s National Homeland Security Council also assailed the suggested changes.

“AFGE does not agree with the basic premise of the document, which is that the federal law enforcement compensation system is broken and in need of repair,” Gage said in letters to Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nevada), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Management. “Our members view the current system as fair, transparent and well-understood by employees. The same cannot be said of the new compensation system proposed in the Concept Paper, which would take all decisions related to law enforcement pay and benefits away from Congress and give this broad new authority to the Executive Branch.”

The concept paper called for transferring authority over pay, including premium pay, classification and retirement pay decisions, from Congress to OPM.

Gage and AFGE’s Law Enforcement Council leaders reviewed the proposal at length and concluded that the “abrogation of Congressional authority over these critical issues is not a sound public policy and will create more problems than it solves.”

AFGE urged the subcommittee chairmen to convene a series of congressional field hearings “before developing legislation” in order to hear from federal workers who would be affected by the concepts outlined in the paper.

“Hear what it is like for a Customs and Border Protection Officer to face danger on the job every day and yet be denied full law enforcement status; talk to a Criminal Investigator about performance-based pay in the real world of federal law enforcement; ask a support person in a federal prison how often and under what circumstances she must take up the role of Correctional Officer because of staffing shortages,” he said in the letters. “I believe that such a process will ensure that the subcommittees truly gain the broad understanding necessary to judge the need for, as well as the types of, reform that would be beneficial.”

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