Congress Passes Legislation to Reform Border Patrol Overtime System, Enhance DHS Cyber Personnel Authorities

WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives approved a measure (S.1691) that would save taxpayers almost $80 million a year while enhancing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to secure our borders and respond to the growing threat posed by cyber attacks. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statements highlighting the legislation’s passage.

The Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013 would dramatically simplify the current pay system for Border Patrol agents and addresses concerns raised by the Office of Special Counsel about the misuse of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime by the agency. The bill was originally introduced by Sen. Tester and is cosponsored by Sens. McCain, Heitkamp, Cornyn, Ayotte, and Flake.

“This legislation, originally introduced by Sens. Tester and McCain, takes some commonsense steps to make some badly needed reforms to the overtime system at the Border Patrol, which is currently too complicated, too difficult to manage, and enables waste and abuse,” said Chairman Carper. “This legislation will save millions of taxpayer dollars and curb misuse of the system – all while increasing the ability of the Border Patrol’s ability to secure our borders. In fact, one estimate I have seen shows that this bill would add the equivalent of 1,500 agents to the border. That’s what I like to call a win-win. I thank my colleagues, Sens. Tester and McCain, for their hard work on this issue and I applaud the House for passing this bipartisan piece of legislation.”

Included in this measure was language from Senator Carper’s DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act, which would help the Department of Homeland Security recruit and retain cyber professionals which are in high demand across the government and private sector. Hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals is challenging for DHS due to competition for talent from both the private sector and other government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Security Agency (NSA). Under existing law, DOD and NSA have special personnel authorities that have enabled them to build and maintain a strong cybersecurity workforce

The approved legislation will help address critical challenges that the Department faces in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals by providing the Secretary of Homeland Security hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts like those of the Secretary of Defense. The new tools will allow DHS to hire at the same speed and with comparable salaries to DOD. The bill would also require DHS to report annually on the progress of the program and to ensure adequate transparency and oversight of the recruitment and retention program.

“Keeping our nation safe and secure in the 21st century relies on our ability to attract and retain an innovative and dedicated workforce,” said Chairman Carper. “It is critical that the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to build a cyber workforce that can respond to the evolving cyber threats facing our nation today. This legislation will give the Secretary of Homeland Security personnel authorities that will improve its ability to compete with the private sector and other agencies to hire and retain the people it needs to combat the cyber threats our country faces. I thank my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives for supporting this bipartisan bill that will help the Department better secure our nation from the evolving cyber threat.”