The latest report from the U.S. Office of Special Council has found some serious waste in the Department of Homeland Security. Shocking! The report shows a collection of data showing that nearly $8.7 million in overtime pay was spent on employees who were sometimes doing nothing more than watching “sports and entertainment” channels on TV.
According to the government investigator, collecting overtime pay in the DHS is a “long-standing abuse” and has become a “persistent pattern”. Employees have been able to take advantage of a program known as Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime. This system is meant to be used only for overtime that is not scheduled in advance because law enforcement has such an irregular schedule.
The report has now been sent to members of Congress and the White House in order to try and come up with a revised pay system.
“Such abuse of overtime pay is a violation of the public trust and gross waste of scarce government funds. It is incumbent upon DHS to take effective steps to curb the abuse. It is up to the administration and Congress to develop a revised pay system, if warranted, that ensures fair compensation for employees who are legitimately working overtime,” special council Carolyn Lerner said in a letter accompanying the report.
One example of abuse comes from the Commissioner’s Situation Room in the Customs and Border Protection office in Washington, DC. Apparently employees in that division assigned themselves two extra hours of work 89% of the time.
A whistle-blower said that “employees who ‘work’ overtime frequently watch sports and entertainment channels during their claimed AUO periods, or spend the two additional hours at their duty station relaxing, joking, surfing the internet and taking care of personal matters”.
This apparently has been an ongoing problem since 2008 and clearly the department really hasn’t done much to take care of it. A DHS spokesman said that the acting secretary has ordered a department-wide review of the overtime policy in reaction to this report. With this now going on 5 years, it would be very surprising to see a huge turnaround any time soon. Talk about government waste!