S. 1691, Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act

S. 1691

Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act

Sen. Jon Tester

December 10, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the House will consider S. 1691, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act, under a suspension of the rules.  S.1691 was introduced on November 13, 2013 by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and John McCain (R-AZ) and passed in the Senate, as amended, by voice vote.  The bill was then referred to the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Homeland Security.

Bill Summary

The purpose of S. 1691, as established in this legislation, is to: 1) strengthen U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by ensuring that agents are able to conduct necessary work; and 2) ensure CBP has the flexibility to cover shift changes.  S. 1691 requires a border patrol agent, not later than 30 days in a calendar year, to make an election whether they would be assigned to the level 1, level 2, or basic border patrol rate of pay (with eligibility for additional overtime as determined by the CBP).[1]  This legislation requires the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to promulgate regulations establishing procedures for such elections, and requires the CBP to provide each agent with sufficient information to adequately make an election.[2]  People who work at CBP headquarters and training facilities would generally be assigned to the basic border patrol rate of pay.[3]

S. 1691 also requires the CBP to assign an agent to basic border patrol rate of pay until it determines that the agent is able to perform scheduled overtime on a daily basis, and must ensure that not more than 10% of agents stationed at a location are assigned to the level 2 border patrol rate of pay or the basic rate of pay. To ensure equity in the federal pension system, this legislation requires the CBP to develop and implement a plan that ensures the assignment of pay for individuals near retirement is consistent with the pay level assigned throughout the course of their career. The bill requires the Comptroller General to report to Congress on the effectiveness of such plan.  Furthermore, this legislation requires the CBP to conduct an analysis examining the staffing requirements at the CBP.  The Comptroller General is then required to submit a report to Congress that examines the report filed by the CBP.

S. 1691 also amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to: 1) establish senior and set the pay of positions ffor employees who perform, manage or supervise functions relating to cybersecurity; and 2) appoint individuals to such positions. The Secretary is required to fix the rates of basic pay for each position to be comparable to Department of Defense (DOD) positions, and allows the Secretary to provide such employees with additional compensation, incentives, and allowances. Moreover, the Secretary is required to submit a report to Congress annually for five years that: 1) discusses the process used in accepting applications and accessing candidates for qualified positions; 2) describes how the Secretary plans to fulfill the critical need of DHS to recruit and retain employees in cybersecurity positions; 3) discusses how such planning is integrated into the strategic workforce of DHS; 4) provides information on the number of employees hired and the number of separations and retirements of employees in qualified positions; and 5) describes the training provided to supervisors of employees in qualified positions on the use of new authorities.  The bill establishes a three year probationary period for all employees hired, and directs the National Protection and Programs Directorate to report to Congress on the availability and benefits of using cybersecurity personnel and facilities outside of the National Capital Region.

This legislation also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to: 1) identify all cybersecurity workforce positions within DHS; 2) determine the primary cybersecurity workforce positions; 3) assign the corresponding data element code, as set forth in OPM’s Guide to Data Standards, that is aligned with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education’s National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework report; 4) establish procedures to identify open positions that include cybersecurity functions; and 5) assign the appropriate employment code to each such position.  Every year through 2021, the Secretary is required to identify cybersecurity work categories and specialty areas of critical need in the DHS cybersecurity workforce; and submit a report to the OPM Director that describes the categories and areas of critical need.

The OPM Director is required under this legislation to provide the Secretary with guidance for identifying cybersecurity work categories and specialty areas of critical need, including areas with acute skill and emerging skill shortages.  The Secretary of DHS is further required to identify specialty areas of critical need in the DHS cybersecurity workforce and submit a progress report to Congress.  Finally, this legislation directs the Comptroller General to analyze, monitor, and report on the implementation of DHS cybersecurity workforce measures.

[1] Note: Level 1 is hourly rate of pay equal to 1.25 times the otherwise applicable hourly rate of basic pay.  Level 2 is the hourly rate of pay equal to 1.125 times the otherwise hourly rate of basic pay.
[2]A n agent who fails to elect a pay level or an agent assigned a canine will be assigned to the level 1 rate of pay.
[3]The bill includes language allowing flexibility in assignment of pay rate for headquarters and training staff if warranted by the workforce analysis required by the bill.


CBO estimates that enacting S. 1691 could save about $100 million annually, assuming future appropriations are reduced consistent with the bill’s provisions.[4]  Enacting this legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.

[4] http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/s1691.pdf

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.