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Washington, D.C. -- Senior officials with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management met recently with federal law enforcement officers and their representatives to further explain pay, classification and retirement benefits recommendations the agency has sent to Congress. The recommendations presented to Congress in a report earlier this month are aimed at modernizing the basic pay, classification, premium pay and retirement systems for federal law enforcement officers and correcting disparities and inequities that are the result of piecemeal fixes over the past 50 years.
Members of the law enforcement community briefed by OPM (senior representatives from the FBI Agents Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Fraternal Order of Police) were asked to provide input and express concerns they may have with the report. Their input had been requested and received in several meetings with OPM during the report's preparation.
OPM Director Kay Coles James believes the report, required by the Federal Law Enforcement Pay and Benefits Parity Act of 2003, could serve as a starting point in the discussion to modernize pay and benefits for law enforcement officers.
Federal law enforcement officers are highly regarded and respected by President George W. Bush and his Administration for the critical work they do in providing safety and security to Americans. James says the report is important in that it "offers options that would bring fairness and equity to pay and benefits for federal law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line each day to protect the public."
James added that recommendations in the report would bring "greater flexibility to establish pay and retirement benefits systems that are strategically designed to support mission requirements" and "support the government's need to maintain a vigorous corps of law enforcement officers, while providing greater agency flexibility to deal with variations in law enforcement mission requirements in the post-9/11 world. OPM will maintain open lines of communication with the Congress and law enforcement organizations as this discussion moves forward."
Current law enforcement pay and retirement systems are based on policies and legislation first established in the late 1940s and 1950s. The majority of inequities are the result of incremental and piecemeal patches applied over decades that were not strategic or comprehensive, and as a result, have not kept pace with expanded federal law enforcement missions and responsibilities, especially since September 11, 2001.
OPM says the report's recommendations will give law enforcement agencies and employees the flexibility to build a more market- and performance-sensitive framework for pay and retirement benefits, and that stakeholders and congressional concerns can be addressed. In that regard, James is soliciting the involvement and participation of employees and union officials in the design of that pay and benefits framework, an approach that has been proven successful in the development of HR systems at the Department of Homeland Security.
OPM believes an administrative authority that is exercised in coordination with employing agencies, employee groups and other stakeholders would focus accountability and protect governmentwide interests. In some cases, the framework could provide considerable agency flexibility to address unique mission and culture requirements, such as the methods for determining performance-based pay increases. In other cases, such as in the retirement area, the framework would establish specific governmentwide rules related to the retirement benefits structure. OPM is very sensitive to the need for stability in the retirement area because of the long-term planning needed to prepare for retirement.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.