Tester, Portman demand answers from Homeland Security on overtime abuse

Senators call on department to answer for improper payments, wasted taxpayer dollars

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and Rob Portman, leaders on the Senate committee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are demanding that the department explains why it allowed employees to continue abusing its overtime pay system even after investigators discovered substantial misuse.

Recent revelations show that Homeland Security employees for years abused a fund meant to compensate workers who must sometimes stay on duty beyond normal business hours, such as law enforcement officers who must respond to criminal activity.

But despite a 2008 investigation and subsequent promise from department officials to stop the practice, a recently released report shows the numerous agencies within the department continue to allow their employees to illegally claim overtime pay. It is estimated that the practice is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

Tester (D-Mont.) and Portman (R-Ohio) want Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers to explain what steps his department is taking to eliminate the abuse and prevent it from happening again.

“While we appreciate DHS taking steps to investigate and eliminate this problem, the report is clear that abuse is systemic across the Department,” Tester and Portman told Beers. “We are confident that you will provide us with the detailed information needed so we can ensure abuse does not continue.”

Tester and Portman specifically want Beers to provide information about how the department is responding to the recent investigative report, what disciplinary actions it is taking, and what additional cases of payroll fraud have been discovered.

Tester and Portman are the Chairman and Ranking Member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Oversight Subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce. They are also currently working to reform and strengthen the security clearance and background check process.

The investigate report, conducted by the Office of Special Counsel, is available online HERE.

The Senators’ letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers.pdf by les_braswell5524