DHS Workers Watch Netflix, Charge Overtime: Report
Dipping into 'candy bowl' cost department $8.7M a year
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2013 9:09 AM CDT
A Netflix DVD envelope and Netflix on-screen television menu are shown in Surfside, Fla.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

(Newser) – An Office of Special Counsel report has detailed a "profound and entrenched problem" at six Department of Homeland Security offices, where employees have been dipping into a "candy bowl" of unearned overtime money to boost their paychecks. The routine practice of claiming Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime—meant to compensate urgent or unanticipated work—bumps up paychecks by as much as 25% and runs the department $8.7 million a year in a "gross waste of government funds," the Washington Post reports; it cites an OSC official who says that number could be in the tens of millions.

"These are not border patrol guys chasing bad guys who can't stop what they are doing and fill out paperwork for overtime," the official said. "These are employees sitting at their desks, collecting overtime because it's become a culturally acceptable practice." One whistleblower, who worked for Customs and Border Protection, says some workers claimed two hours of overtime daily, and spent that time "catching up on Netflix" or "talking to friends." "It was such misuse that I felt I had a legal obligation to report," he says. "I will sleep better at night." A DHS rep says a department-wide review of AUO has been ordered. Click for the full report.

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Nov 2, 2013 11:10 AM CDT
In my experience this seems typical. I used to manage a full service repair shop that had gas, and we had full service. There was this state worker that would fill up both her state provided vehicle and her private vehicle at our station. When she drove the state vehicle and paid with the state provided credit card, she always used the more expensive "full service" where we pump the gas, wash the windows and check the oil. Mind you we check anyone's oil for free, full or self service. But in her own car she always used self service. Talk about an entitlement attitude, we're an entitlement nation.
Nov 2, 2013 9:49 AM CDT
I agree with the general sentiment of everyone on this page. However, I don't believe firing these people is sufficient. I suggest we make them -pay the money back-! If I collected public benefits I didn't deserve, like unemployment or food stamps, and was caught for fraud, I wouldn't just get cut off, I'd have to pay it all back, too. Everyone complains about so-called "freeloaders" and "welfare queens". I wouldn't call these workers much better.
Nov 1, 2013 9:48 PM CDT
Paying federal louts for not working? This isn't new. None of them work more than an hour a day if that. Working for the fed is an entitlement program.