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
DHS Workers Watch Netflix, Charge Overtime: Report
A Netflix DVD envelope and Netflix on-screen television menu are shown in Surfside, Fla.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

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. (Read more Department of Homeland Security stories.)

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