Senate Approves Legislation to Reform Border Patrol Overtime System, Enhance DHS Cyber Personnel Authorities

WASHINGTON – Last night, the Senate unanimously 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 address concerns raised by the Office of Special Counsel about the misuse of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime. 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 common-sense steps to address badly needed reforms to the overtime system at the Border Patrol, which is currently too complicated and too difficult to manage,” said Chairman Carper. “Not only does it save taxpayers millions of dollars and cut down on misuse of the system, but it also increases our ability to patrol—and 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. My thanks to Sens. Tester and McCain for their hard work on this issue.”

Included in this measure was language from the DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act, which would help DHS recruit and retain cyber professionals which are in high demand across the government and private sector. The legislation would 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.

“Twenty-first century threats require a 21st century response,” said Chairman Carper. “Our nation needs a strong cybersecurity workforce to address these growing threats in cyberspace. Unfortunately, the demand for cybersecurity experts in the government greatly outpaces the supply and many agencies have had difficulty attracting the best and brightest and retaining those already in service. This legislation would help address this problem by giving the Secretary of Homeland Security the personnel authorities the Department needs to improve their ability to compete with the private sector and other agencies to hire and retain the most skilled cyber workforce.  I thank my colleagues for approving this measure and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to cultivate a strong workforce that can better secure our nation from the evolving cyber threat.”