Section 2(b) of the Federal Law Enforcement Pay and Benefits Parity Act of 2003, Public Law 108-196 (December 19, 2003), calls for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to conduct a study comparing the job classifications, pay, and benefits of Federal law enforcement officers and to make recommendations for ensuring, to the maximum extent practicable, the elimination of disparities for law enforcement officers throughout the Federal government.
In his December 19, 2003, signing statement, the President noted certain reservations concerning the implementation of Section 2(b) of the Act. The President stated the following:
To the extent that section 2(b)(2) of the Act calls for submission by the executive branch of legislative recommendations, the executive branch shall implement the provision in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to submit for the consideration of the Congress such measures as the President judges necessary and expedient.
In keeping with that requirement, this report contains recommendations regarding pay and retirement benefits for employees with law enforcement duties. The Office of Management and Budget advises that there is no objection from the standpoint of the Administration's program to the submission of this report.
Last year, in response to a joint request from the House Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Government Reform, and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, OPM prepared a report on the pay and retirement benefits of Federal employees with law enforcement duties. That report (hereafter referred to as the June 2003 report) surveyed law enforcement personnel in all three branches of Government (including the U.S. Postal Service as part of the executive branch), but excluded employees in the intelligence agencies. The report separated law enforcement employees into two broad groupings: (1) those holding positions that qualify as law enforcement officer (LEO) positions under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) laws and regulations1 and (2) other employees with authority to make arrests under Federal law (or an equivalent authority to detain persons under military law).
Consistent with an agreement with the requesting committees, the June 2003 report provided statistical data, descriptions of law enforcement officers (LEOs) and other employees with arrest authority, a listing of standard pay and benefits, a catalog summarizing nonstandard pay and benefits applicable to LEOs and other employees with arrest authority, and detailed information about LEO retirement benefits (including historical legislative documents). This year's report provides a further discussion of the information provided in the June 2003 report. Specifically, this report contains sections on retirement benefits, classification and basic pay systems, and premium pay for LEOs and other employees with arrest authority (i.e., the same groups that were the focus of the June 2003 report). However, for the purpose of this report, the term "LEO" includes non-LEO groups that have enhanced retirement benefits equivalent to those for LEOs-i.e., Capitol Police and Supreme Court Police. In addition, throughout this report we have used the term "other law enforcement personnel" or "other law enforcement employees" to characterize employees who have arrest authority, but whose positions are not approved for enhanced LEO retirement benefits2.
A separate part is devoted to each area of study: Part II - retirement, Part III - classification and basic pay, and Part IV - premium pay. In each part, the report provides relevant background information, an analysis of key issues that must be considered in making policy judgments, and a description and justification of our recommendation. The concluding part, Part V, presents these recommendations as an integrated concept.
In determining the relative merit of various options and recommendations, OPM assessed each against the following principles:
Past studies regarding the pay and benefits of Federal law enforcement employees include the following:
In 1990, the National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement (NACLE) issued a report to the President and Congress on pay, benefits, and other issues related to the recruitment and retention of Federal law enforcement officers. NACLE was chaired by the Comptroller General of the United States and included in its membership selected Members of Congress, certain agency heads and other high-level officials, and leaders of certain employee organizations. The NACLE report focused on employees who were covered by the special retirement provisions for LEOs.
The NACLE report made a number of findings and recommendations, including the following:
A number of the NACLE recommendations were adopted in whole or in part in the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA) (section 529 of Public Law 101-529, November 5, 1990). For example, FEPCA provided (1) LEO special rates at grades 3 through 10, (2) locality pay for all GS employees (with temporary geographic adjustments for LEOs in some areas); (3) foreign language bonuses for LEOs; (4) recruitment, relocation, and retention payments for all GS employees; (5) an increase in the LEO mandatory retirement age to 57; and (6) a guarantee that the GS-10, step 1, cap on overtime hourly rates could not cause an FLSA-exempt LEO's overtime hourly rate to fall below the officer's regular rate (this was extended to all employees covered by the title 5 overtime pay rules through the enactment of Public Law 108-136 in 2003).
In response to a statutory requirement (FEPCA, section 412), OPM issued a report to Congress on the possibility of a separate pay and job evaluation system for Federal law enforcement officers. OPM established an advisory committee that included agency and employee representatives. OPM held meetings with the advisory committee, conducted site visits and interviews, reviewed the NACLE findings, and collected additional data. The OPM report included the following findings and recommendations:
The 1993 OPM report made no recommendations regarding which groups of employees should be covered by the law enforcement officer retirement provisions or the level of retirement benefits. The report also recognized concerns regarding inconsistencies in overtime pay practices, but did not put forward a specific recommendation in that area.
This GAO report provided information on pay, retirement, recruitment, and retention of Federal uniformed police. The report was limited in scope to entry level Federal uniformed police in the 13 Federal police forces in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. GAO noted that the data discussed in the report could not be projected nationwide and that the report did not survey criminal investigator or general inspection occupations in all three branches of Government.
GAO stated that it could not draw conclusions concerning the relationship between the differences in pay and retirement benefits of Federal police officers and the recruitment and retention of police officers. The GAO report noted that within the 13 Federal police forces reviewed, there was "no clear pattern evident between employee pay and turnover rates during fiscal year 2002" and that "no clear pattern existed regarding turnover among police forces receiving Federal law enforcement retirement benefits and those receiving traditional Federal retirement benefits" (GAO report, pages 17-18). The main finding of the GAO report was that although 9 of the 13 Federal police forces reported difficulties in recruiting officers to some extent, none of the police forces used important human capital recruitment flexibilities (e.g., recruitment bonuses, student loan repayments) to boost recruitment and retention during FY 2002.
In its June 2003 report, OPM provided comprehensive information on the pay and retirement benefits of LEO and other employees with arrest authority. (See Section B.)
1Some employees may serve in qualified CSRS/FERS LEO positions but lack law enforcement officer retirement coverage because of certain transfer requirements. However, these employees are entitled to special LEO pay entitlements. (See 5 U.S.C. 5541(3)). [Back]
2This report does not cover groups such as Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Transportation Security Administration airport screeners, and Internal Revenue Service revenue officers because they do not have arrest authority. [Back]