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Report: Homeland Security wasting $8.7M annually in unearned overtime

Nov. 1, 2013 at 11:47 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Homeland Security workers routinely take home overtime pay even if they haven't earned it, a report from the federal Office of Special Counsel indicates.

Workers can add up to 25 percent to their paycheck from what the employees call the "candy bowl," The Washington Post reported.

The OSC said the money, from Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime, is meant for urgent work often done by law enforcement agents. But Homeland Security has wasted $8.7 million per year with misuse of the funds, the OSC said in its report.

"These are not border patrol guys chasing bad guys who can't stop what they are doing and fill out paperwork for overtime. We are not questioning that," Carolyn Lerner, OSC special counsel, said. "These are employees sitting at their desks, collecting overtime because it's become a culturally acceptable practice."

Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard said authorities have ordered a review of how AUO is used and whether it complies with laws.

"DHS takes seriously its responsibility to ensure proper use of taxpayer funds," he said. "While many frontline officers and agents across the department require work hour flexibility, often through the use of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO), misuse of these funds is not tolerated."

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