C‘nite $7States General Accounting Office ‘G-i- “.?’ Report ’ to the Chairintin, Subcommittee ._ . on CiviLand Cdrts.tiWtional Rights, l Committee on khe Judiciary, I House of .. Representatiyes .? * f ‘S*,-’ _ . c 1’./“.’ . ~-.-~--~-l.l-- . . -- Illa\ 1w1 . 3 ‘UY!-EN’FO;RCEMENT I.‘.3- --..- -‘; . . ?. . ‘E _- 7 * -. . .+ . . Support Staff ; . ’ , 1 .q ,-. GAO Unkd strrm Accounting General ofk Washington, D.C.20548 General Government Dhisbn ES-238700 May 22.19W The Honorable Don i3kuds Chairman, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights Committee on the .Judiciary I Iouse of Hepresentativcu Dear Mr. Chairman: In response to your request., this report supplements the Sational Advi- sory Commission on Law Enforcvment’s ( WLE) study of federal law enforcement personnel issues, The Omnibus Antidrug Abuse Act of 1988 crcatcd SACWto study recruitment, compensation, and retention issues affecting federal law enforcement officers. You expressed partic- ular interest in the difficulties federal law enforcement agencies experi- ence in attracting and retaining qualified suppon staff. Law enforcement support staff perform a wide array of professional, Background administrative, technical. and clerical functions essential to accomptish- ing their agencies’ missions+ For the purposes of this report, the term “law enforcement support staff’ refers to non-agent white collar employees in Jaw enforcement agencies-the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Prisons, Drug Enforce ment Administration, Immigration and Xaturahzation Service, and US. Marshals Service, and the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Alco- hol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Customs Service, Federal Law Enforce- ment Training Center, and U.S. Secret Service.’ “Son-law enforcement agencies” include all other federaJ agencies. Few empirical data are available to quantify the magnitude of support staff problems facing federal law enforcement agencies today. Conse- quently, rnudh of the in:ormation contained in this report reflects law enforcement officials’ perceptions and opinions. It should also bc noted that the support staff problems discussed in this report are not exclusive to federal Jaw enforcement agencies. Studies show that non&w enforcement federal agencies face similar problems in recruiting, retaining, and compensating their support staff. However, the problems can be exacerbated for agencies that require Top Secret ’ I S .Swrrr ?+n’~w 1‘n~f~rnntdfhwwm mrmbws were mrwludod in the SprctE tiudy and.tM<n, cxcludwl from rhilr study Page I GA0iGGDsoBo PI?dMd law lhf -nrSllppar surf security clearances and drug tests for all of their staff, such as the FBI and Secret Service. Although recruitment. retention, and compensation issues are interrelat4 we discuss them separately for ease of presenta- tion in this letter and in appendixes I, II, and III. Although available data on support staff problems are limited, federal Ftesults in Brief law enforcement managers and personnel specialist.s believe that attracting and retaining qualifti support staff have become incre;lrs- ingly difficult as the pay disparity between federal and private sector employment has grown. They consider support staff recruitment and retention significant problems. and they point to noncompetitive federal compensation ;1sthe underlying causeof both problems. Soncompetitive salaries cause recruitment and retention problems in all federal agencies. However, when low starting salaries are combined with :aw enforcement agencies’ security clearance requirements, law enforcement managers report they have greater recruitment problems in terms of time, expense, and number of qualified applicants than their counterparts in most other federal agencies. Our analysis of available governmentwide statistics for foal year 1988 indicates that quit rate+ for law enforcement agencies-excluding the ml---are about comparable to non-law enforcement agencies. When sta- tistics include the wt. the turnover is much higher. Our analysis also shows that within the law enforcement community, support staff turn- over varies by occupation and location, with the greatest turnover occurring in clerical occupations in high-cost cities. Due to time con- straints. we did not determine the reasons for variations in turnover. The consequence of recruitment and retention problems. according to law enforcement managers, include increased recruiting and training expenses and lost productivity. Our objective was to obtain data and information on the recruitment, Objective, Scope, and compensation. and retention of support staff in federal law enforcement Methodology agencies. To accomplish our objective and to provide overall perspec- tive. we attempted to identify and compare problems of support staff in federal law enforcement agencies with support staff in other federal agencies, in state and local law rnforcement agencies, and in the private sector. Information required to make direct comparisons with the private sec- tor, state and local law entircement agencies. and with non-law enforce- ment federal agencies was limited or unavailable. For e;;arnple, information on salaries paid to state and local law enforcement support staff was readily available for only a few locations; data on recruitment activities other than the number of new hires were not readily available at the federal, state, local. or private sector levels; and turnover data were available only on the federal level. In addition, no standard defti- tion of “vacancy” exists within the federal government. Thus. where vacancy statistics are available. interagency comparisons to discern the difficulty in filling jobs could be misleading. Becauseof the problems with availability and definition, we used available aggregate data and information obtained during interviews with Iaw enforcement officials. To compare compensation paid to support staff by the federal govem- ment with the private sector, we used the August 1989 annual report of the President’s pay advisoi-s, Comparability of the Federal Statutory Pay Systems With Private Enterprise Pay Rates. and a July 1989 report sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management (0~) entitled Study of Federal Employee locality Pay. In addition, two FBIfield offices pro- vided information from local law enforcement agencies for comparative purposes on salaries paid to support staff in Sew York City and Seattle. To determine the extent of support staff turnover in federal law enforcement and non-law enforcement agencies during fiscal years 1986, 1987, and 1988, we obtained and analyzed governmentwide turnover data for a judgmental sample of 14 occupational series. The elected occupations are common to federal law enforcement and non-law enforcement agencies. From 0~~'s Central Personnel IMa File (CPDF), we obtained turnover data on all federal agencies for the 14 support staff occupational series except those agencies exempt from certain personnel reporting requirements (e.g., the FIX Central Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies). To derive aggregate and 1-l “law enforce- ment” data, we supplemented the cpof metropolitan statistical area data with similar data collected directly from the FRI.We also analyzed tumu ver data for five of eight metropolitan areas identified by SXXE as high- cost areas (Sew York City; Washington, DC; Chicago; Los Angeles; and San Francisco) and three of six identified as lowcost (Brownsville, Texas: Kansas City, Missouri; and Spokane. Washington). We did not independently verify the accuracy of the CPDF or FBI data. .,..I .- .,, ..,_- --‘--’ .-. To supplement t hc limited empirical data. we interc iewed a judgmental sample of Secret G-vice and ~731 managers, recruiters, and personnel specialists in ~IUand Secret Semicc headquarters in Washington, D.C.; tl$l field offices in i3altimore: Sew York City; Washingmn. DC.; and the Secret Scrvim’s Sew York field office. :Ve also reviewed ( 1) information on support staff rcynritment and retention problems obtained during SIV‘U intcmicws with 102 federal law enforcement managers in 14 cities and (2 1studies by tixo and other organizations. The Secret Service and t?ll assigned a personnel specialist to facilitate data collection at their respective agcncirs and to assist in our overall review efforts. Although our work focused on recruitment and retention issues within tiic iaw cnforccment community. we made limited contacts with the fol- lowing non-law enforcement agcncic5 to obtain their views on these same issues -the Department of Health and IIuman SerGzes in Wash- ington, D.C., and Svw York City; the Environmental Protection Agency in Sew York City: and OPYand the Departments of Defense and Energy in IVashington. D.C. N’e did our work between O(Zo&!r 1989 and March 1990. using generally accepted go~~crnmt~ntauditing standards. Ag#X?gate data identifying trend? in law enforcement support staff Law Enforcement recruitment arc not available. Although supporting data are not rou- Officials Perceive tinely maintained. many federal law enforcement managers and Significant Support recruiters perceive a significant support staff recruiting problem. For example. 44 percent of the 102 law enforcement managers interviewed Staff Recruiting by S~V’I.Ereported experiencing rect‘rrf problems recruiting sufficient Problem qualified support staff. Of the problems affecting law enforcement sup port staff reported by these managers, recruitment was the third most often cited. According to federal law enforcement officials. their offices frequently have several suppon staff vacancic?sat one time, some of which have taken months-or yearn-to fill. Such long-standing vacancies disrupt office operations and diminish overall efficiency. These officials added that noncompetitive entry lcvcl salaries and stringent hiring standards such ;1$requiring Top Secret security clearance for a higher proportion of support staff combine to make recruiting more difficuIt and expen- sive f:,r law enforcement agencies than for many other federal agencies. .- Govummenrwwlc statistic% indicate that support staff turnover varies ;uppmt Staff by occupational series and location and is higher in law enforcement b-never Statistics agencies than in non-law enforcement federal agencies for 13 of 14 sup kry Ektween Law port series that we reviewed. Ilowever, the ~EI’Shigh quit rate is the principal reilson thiit the statistics show law enforcement agencies’ quit bforcement and Non- nltcs ;FSbeing greater than those of non-law enforcement agencies. In AW Enforcement fiscal year 1988. the nr<s average quit rate for the 14 support staff occupational .seric%was 18.52 percent-almost 2 l/2 times greater than igencies Primarily all trf the other law enforcement agencies combined. Krause of FBI Quit lates IVhen VWdata are cscluded. the average quit rate for law enforcement agencies decreases from about 11 percent to 6.7 wrcent. which is about cornp;lrabk* to rhc 62 percent quit rate for non-law cr.forcclmcnt agen- tics. Since federal law enforcement and nun-law enforcement support staff of the same grade arc paid the same salaries. compensation alone dots not account for the differences between the t%l and other.agencies’ quit rates. Due to time constraints. we were not able to obtain the data needed to dctcrmine why tumovcr varies between the ml and other agcncics. .Qcording to law cniorcement managers. it is not uncommon for a single position to turn over several times within a year. New suppon employ- tvs acquire training and experience at government expense and then Ieave for higher paying jobs in the private sector. As a result, federal Iaw enforcement agem& have become support staff “training grounds” for iaw firms, banks. and other private employers. Law enforcement managers attributed their support staff turnover in federal law enforce- ment agencies primarily to noncu>mpetitive compensation. They said the consequoncc’s of the high turnover include increased recruiting and training expenses and lost productivity. According to the report of the President’s pay advisors, there was 2xw Enforcement a pay gap averaging ‘79 percent between federal salaries and private sal- hlpport Staff aries For all types of comparable positions. Other studies have also hmpensation Is Not shown that federal sector pay is less than private sector pay for compa- rable support positions. F’Orexampk. a 198189 owl-sponsored study hsidered showed that the federH1 mean salary for computer specialist (grade 5) hmpetitive With was abwt S ltj.275 compared with the salary range of about $22,000 to Q%.OoUin the private sector. Although special salary rates, where Jonfederal Sector available. narruw the gap between federal and private support salaries. WJI and law enforcement officials do not believe that these rates adc- quatcly address the overall pay problem. .-. Law enforcement managers cited two related consequcnees of the dis- parity between federal and private sector compensation. The most fre- quently cited consequence was that federal law enforcement agencies find attracting and retaining qualified support staff increasingly diffi- cult. -*other consequence, managers believed, is a conspicuous decline in the quality of candidates who do apply for law enforcement support positions. As requested by the Subcommittee, we did not obtain written comments Agency Comments from agencies. We did, however, discuss the contents of the report with law enforcement officials at the FBIand Seeret Service and non-law enforcement officials at OPM and the Departments of Defen.se. Energy, and Ilealth and Human Services and incorporated their comments where appropriate. The officials generally agreed with the facts presented, and the k-ts~said it plans to do further analysis on its quit rates. The non-law enforcement officials‘generally said that the problems cited in the report are not exclusive to law enforcement agencies. and they experience simi- lar recruitment and retention problems because of noncompetitive fed- eral pay. As agreed with the Subcommittee, we have also included as appendix IV governmentwide data on transfers of employees among federal agencies. Also as arranged with the Subcommittee, we are providing copies of this report to the Directors of the FBI,U.S. Secret Service, and OPM. We plan no further distribution of this report until 10 days from the date of its issuance unles you publicly announce its contents earlier. At that time, we will send copies to interested parties and make copies available to others upon request. -- B23%700 The major contributors to this report are Listed in appendix V. If you or your staff have any questions concerning the contents of this report, please call me on 27550'74. Sincerely yours, -z* Bernard L. Ungar Director, Federal Human Resource Management Issues Page 7 GAO&G- Fdemi Law l?.&rcemnt Support Staff ..,_ - _- ~p@endixI 10 law Enforcement Recruitment Statistics Lacking 10 Suppolt Staff Recruiting Considered Increasingly 10 officials Perceive Difficult ignificant Support Stringent Hiring Standards May Increase Recruiting 11 Difficulties taff Recruiting Recruiting Alevities Expanded 13 ‘roblem Lppendix II 14 upport Staff Support Staff Turnover Varies by Series, Type of Agency, 14 u~d Location ‘umover Statistics Law Enforcement Managers Perceive Support Staff 19 ‘ary Between Law Turnover as a Critical Problem :nforcement and Non- law Enforcement ,gencies Primarily ‘mause of the FBI’s !uit Rate ,ppendix III 22 ,aw Enforcement Documented Disparity Between Federal and Private 22 sector salaries upport Staff Indications That Special Rates Are Sot Sufficient to 23 ‘ompensation Is Not Compete With Private Sector Salaries Pay Gap fbists Between Federal and Some Imal Law 24 ‘onsidered Enforcement Support Salaries lompetitive With Pay Disparity Ckmsidered Cause of Recruitment and 24 ionfederal Sector Retention Problems Noncompetitive Compensation Also Considered Cause of 26 Staff Quality Decline endix IV 27 aI Year 1988 lsfer Rates for cted support Staff es endix V 30 x Contributors to ; Report Les Table II. 1: Quit Rates for Selected Law Enforcement 15 Support Staff Seties Table 11.2:Comparison of law Enforcement and h’on-Law 16 Enforcement Agencies’ Quit Rates for Selected Support Staff Series for Fiscal Year 1988 Table 11.3:Comparison of FBI With Other Law 17 Enforcement Agencies’ Quit Rates for Fiscal Year I988 Table 11.4:Comparison of Foal Year 1988 Law 18 Enforcement and Non-Law Enforcement Support Staff Quit Rates in High- and Low-Cost Cities Table III. 1: Comparison of Federal and Private Sector 23 Salaries for Selected Support Staff Positions Table IV. 1: Comparison of FBI, Other Law Enforcement, 27 and Non-Law Enforcement Agencies’ Transfer Rates for Selected Support Staff Series for Fiscal Year 1988 Table IV.2: Comparison of FBI, Other Law Enforcement, 28 and Non-Law Enforcement Agencies’ Support Staff Trarrfer Rates in High- and Low-Cost Cities for Fiscal Year 1988 - Abbreviations CPDF Central Personnel Data File EPA Environmental Protection Agency rB1 Federal Bureau of Investigation HI-IS Department of Health and Human Services Iw3.E National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement OPM Office of Personnel Management -9 G.40/GGD~ Ptdtd Ltw Enfo-nt sopport SW ,a l ldix I iii Ehforcement Officials PerceiveSignificant - pport Staff Recruiting Problem I . t . Aggregate data identifying trends in law enforcement support staff recruitment are not available. Nevertheless. mvty federa! li;-~ enforce- ment managers and recruiters we interviewed perceive a significant sup port staff recruiting problem. The managers and recruiters cited several factors that contribute to their suppo~ staff recruiting problems. Princi- pal among these factors were noncompetitive compensation, stnngent hiring standards. and the cost and length of time required to bring new employees on board (See app. 111for a more detailed discussion of non- competitive federal compensation. I OPM does not track vacancies throughout the federal government and, x.Ament Statistics although some agencies do track vacancies, interagency vacancy rates cing arc not comparable because no standard definition of “vacancy” exists. ,%)meindividual federal law enforcement managers have documented their support staff recruiting problems by systematica!ly tracking and analyzing support staff vacancy rates and other recruiting statistics Yowever. f he data arc specific to individual offices and cannot be pro- P jected to the entire federal law enforcement community. Despite the scarcity of recruitment data, many federal law enforcement port Staff managers believe chat recruiting qualified support staff has become viting Considered increasingly difficult as the pay disparity between federal and private easingly Difficult sector employment has grown, the prestige of public service has declined, and the skills required for entry positions (e.g., com~P%cr .- skills) have increased. Of the 102 law enforcement managers interviewed by SXLE in 14 cities . across the nation in 1989,44 percent reported experiencing recent problems recruiting enough qualified support staff. Of the problems affecting law enforcement support staff reported by these managers, - z recruitment was the third most often cited. According to a Secret Service recruiter, LOyears ago the secret Service :- _ had an abundance of qualified candidates to choose from and little or no specialized recruiting was required to fill support positions. However, in his opinion, recruiting is more difficult today due to the tight job mar- ket. the increasingly technical nature of support positions, and the low -. -* pay and benefits associated with federal government employment. For example, Secret Service document examiner positions were easily filled - Page 10 GAOGGD9040 Federal Law Enfmcmzmt Sappart surf . . .- .--__ - .- --_ l in the past. However, a recent Secret Service rrcruiting trip to a confer- ence where ncar!y 100 potential applicants were present did rc7t pro- duce a single applicafion for vacant documert examiner positins. The recruiter attributed the lack of interest in t&e positions to the low starting salaries. Fut recruiters re!ated similar recruiting experiences. Law enforccmr!nt agencies’ difficulties attracting qualified support applicantri have sometimes resulted in vacancies remaining open far long periods of time. For example, an analysis of support staff tumover in the Secret Servic~‘s Los Angel= office showed that support vdes remained open an average of 251 days in fti year 1987,34X days in fiscal year 1988. and 248 days in fiscal year 198%The Secret Srvice’s Phoenix field office, which has three supportpmitionsauthorized, had one position vacant fcr the 2-year period ending May 1989. The KU Washington, D.C., field office had a 20-percent vacancy rate vnong its secretarial staff from October 1989 through January I990. According to law enforcement managers, long-standing vacancies disrupt office ope- ations, increase other staff members’ workloads, and diminish overa.lI efficiency. - According to several law enforcement managers, recruiting is generally Stringent Hiring more expensive and difficult for law enforcement agencies than for most Standards May other federal agencies because of their more stringent and time+zonsum- Increase Recruiting ing hiring standards. Unlike most support staff in non-law enforcement agencies, certain support staff in some law &&cement agencies need Difficulties Top Secret security clearances. In other agencies,such as the Secret Se- vice and FBI, all support staff need Top Secret security clearances and drug tests. Stringent Security The background investigations required for Top Secret clearances include reviews of applicants’ credit, employment, education, medical, Standards May Limit Pool military, t-x, and any criminal records that may rxist- They also include of Potential Applicants interviews with references and other acquaintances, criminal records checks on all close relative and roommat.es, reviews of immigration records if the applicant or cl- relatives are registered aliens or natu- ralized U.S. citizens, and ovefi%.aschecks if ihe applicant or close rela- tives resided or traveled out&c- t.be United States. In addition to hackground investigations, applicants for law enforce- ment support positions may also be subject to drug tests, polygraph tests. medical examinations, and physical fitrte~ requirements. Such izz2’ onwmen1OmelrLPwcdve 2a@dfhnl supwn sun hitbag hdkr demanding hiring rcquircments may deter somejob seekers from even applying at law enforcement agencim in the first place. As a secret Ser- v.icT manager explained. up to -50 percent of potential applicants at the Sew York field office lose interest in working for the Secret Service when informed of the agency’s strict rules against drug use, as well as agency drug-testing rCquirements. Of those who do apply fcJr law enfm~ment support positions, many are rejected due to advem material fdc 3 (criminal records, drug use, bad credit) uncovered during the Frsunal interview or background tnvesti- mtion. Although data are not routinely accumulated, in I986 the Secret Service’s Sew York field office interviewed IF)4 applicants listed on the OIW registry for support pitions. Due to adverse material facts rwealed during the intenMvs, only five candidates warranted a back- ground investigation. and only one candidate’s background could sustain the necessary security clearance. According to FM managers, the FM denies more than twice as many applicant security clearances as it grants because of derogatory information develop4 during background investigations. Time-Consuming Personnel specialists told us the length of time required to obtain WWF ity clearances further limits the pool of potential applicants for law Clearance Process Furthe lr enforcement support positions. Unlike most other federal agencies, FBI Limits -. Pool of Potential and Secret Service support staff need Top &ret security clearances. APPllCantS Therefore, they do not always have the flexibility to hire applicants to a nonclassified position and reassign them upon clearance approval. The security clearance process takes an average of 3 months and can take as long as 1 year. During that time, many applicants take otherjobs with private employers or non-law enforcement federal agenciw that may offer the same or better salary and benefits as law enforcement agen- cies, but can bring new employees on board quicker- According to HHS and EPA staffing specialists in the Sew York regional offices, new sup port employees can begin working at fm- and EP~\within a few weeks of i being offered positions. On the other hand, officials at the Departments (Jf Defense and Energy said that they are not always able to bring sup / port staff on board until they obtain security clearances. ,/’ Recruiting Is More Law enforcement managers contend that support staff recruiting is far more expensive for them than for their counterparts in most other fed- Expensive for Law eral agencies. According LOa C’S Merit Systems Protection Board study, Enforcement Agencies replacing a federal employee typically costs from $300 to $2,200, -._, - - ,- ,-.__ I . - . -. -, m.,*’ delwnding on rhe position. Ilowvrvcr, due to the additional costs of con- ducting background irrvcstigatir,ns. dmg tests, polygraph tests, and med- ical osaminations. data provided Iry the Secret Service and FENshow that it cosw an avcraw trf S9.%0 to replace their professional and support staff. According to FIII and .Scrrt .SeWce managers, exacting hiring standards and Top Stuct security ckdr;rncvs are necessary for all support empioy- WY txau~ ~6 tbtbir c-onstant us+t of classified infonnation in the per- frxm;tnce rlf their durics and the mission of the &.gency.Due to time constramts. WVdid not evaluate the reasonableness of requiring Top Stunt ckranccs for all law enfcvccment support staff or compare tk tnft’icitmc>-I 11’law c*nfrJrcVmcntsecurity clearance pnmssing with that of other :~gcncics. w and Secret tin-ice officials told us they have responded to the Recruiting Activities recruitment chalknge by expanding and upgrading their recruiting Expanded efforts. but with limited SUCCESS In the past, law enforcement agencies rc:r-niitcd ~pf~rt stziff on an -as-neededbasis. S-xv, however, recruiting has bc-comca fl-ILtime, year-round activity. FHIand %x-ret Ser~-ic~ field vfficPs each have at least one Special Agent and or ant! support employee z%igmxi to recruiting, In addition, both Secret Serx-ice and 6-1 headquarters have units dedicated to directing and ccujrdinating recruiting activities. Law enforcement agvn4r-j expnd considerable resource conducting nationwide rcvruiting activities and developing innovative recruiting techniques. In addition to customary recruiting methods, such as attend- ingjob fairs and adv-cirtising in local newspapers, law enforcement agen- cies have begun consulting with advertising professionals, producing recruiting videotapcx and establishing or expanding high school camp, college intern, summer. pan-time. and handicapped employee programs. APPelldlX Shq&Lrt Staff Turnover StatiSticSVary ltl&Wt%n-i L;tvv Enforcement ad Non-Law Enforcement f AgenciesPrimarily Becauseof the FBI’s Quit Rate Federal govrrrnmentwide statistics for foal year 1988 indicate that law . enforcement agencies. primarily becauseof the FBI’Squit rates, wri- ’ ence higher turnover in certain support occupations than non-law enforcement agencies. Excluding data on the FBI,the tumover statistics i for Lw enforcement agencies are about comparable to non-law enfor# .+ ment agencies. Funher. turnover varies by occupation and geographic f IcKcation.with the greatest turnover occurring in clerical occupations in ’ highccat cities. According to many law enforcement managers, high ; turnover among support staff is a critical problem that is primarily due ” to noncompetitive federal compensation, and results in lost productkiky .f and increased recruiting and training expense. (See app. III for a more .“j defr’ mddiscussion of noncompetitive federal compensation.) i i support Staff varies by occupational series and location, and turnover in some support -1 Turnover Varies by series is higher in law enforcement agenties than in non-law enforce!- ; ment fcde& agencies. The FDI’Shigh quit rate is the principal reason i Series, Type of - why govcmmcntwide statistics indicate that Iaw enforcement agencies’ ; Agency, and hation quit rates arc generally greater than those of non-law enforcement ages 8 ties. Since federal law enforcement and non-law enforcement support 1 staff trf the same grade are paid the same salaries, compensation alone does not account for the differences between the FBI and other agencies’ : quit rates. Due to time constraints, we were not able to obtain the data needed to determine why turnover varies between the FBIand the other * agencies Turnover Varies by Among the 14 support series we analyzed, the highest turnover gener- : ally occurred in clerical positions, such ,a mail and file, cIerk-typist, and Occupational Series data transcriber. Table II. 1 lists in descending order for fiscal year 1998 the nationwide quit rates for the 14 law ‘enforcement support series. I ..Y Page 14 .- . - _, - ..,. T&h II.1 : ouit Rate8 lot wetted Law Enlorcement support stall series Fiscal yaw 1988 FUymrl967 Fiua1 Yew 1#6 Quit Avmgo Ouit Avemga Quit A- suier -.-._.. - _. Tit* -__- ~~-. ~-- -I .~ -~ rate populrdkn -POP-- -- - - -pal 0305 Mad and hle 19 51% 2,983-- 1239% -.2378-~‘~- 1295% 3.058 __ -.- - 0356 Data !ranscrtber 18 14 226 --.-..- If 11.-_-._ 22l3 14.35 2xJ _.---. __ -- . --- --_--- 0322 Clerk-1yprst _-_--- 17 78 2.098 1366 1,633 1646 r.802 - _ _----.--II..__. 0332 Computer operatbon l4BB 168 _-- -862 174 696 172 ii&i-l -- _._~- Vouch& ;;amk”o 1284 148 17 16 134 662 132 ~ i&L30 M~cellaneous __~ - ~~ clerk and asslstant 971 2.708 693 2.912 667--- 2.907 0525 A&ounrmg technman 901 566 737 52!3----- 906 508 0310 Secretary 7 98 31X? - 1 --- ULJ? --* L.!Nil 824 2.791 6 14 651 4 15 579 460 534 ii334 _ Computer speclaltst -..-.. _ __ ._-_ --~-..~~ leo2 Compliance -- ..__.-___.lnspect+on___.and support 506 1739 ,i3 --0943s ~- - -..---,- ol;-IT~t-- 406 -.-- 1.176 837 99 0393 Qmmunlcatlons speclabst 4 42 -.. - _..--.--___ - _- 0132 lntelhgence I --_~i... 3 54 650_- 336 _. _-__ ----___35 i .a7 428 -._ 0301 MtsceUaneous ._ .._ ._-- adminlslratron and program 351 941._-- ___~ 363 .--.. -.__ 855 3.72 -1- 779 c5oau Eiecur~tyadmtn6tralton 271 221 1 51 199 529 170 kveraoe~?w&htedl 11IIt% a 94% 956% arid FBI data Table 11.1 also illustrates that quit rates have generally increased during thr last 3 years for lvhich data are available. Between the most recent 2 fi.wai years-1987 and IS&S-the computer operation series has experi- cnccd the largest increase (73 percent) among the occupations for which quit rates were higher than 10 percent. In 9 of the 14 occupations, quit rates were. to varying degrees, higher in fiscal year 1988 than in the preceding 2 years. In four occupations-mail and file, computer opera- tion. security administrz=tion. and communications specialist-quit rates in fiscal year 1988 were at least S7 percent higher than in the preceding year. Turnover Varies Between During fiscal ywr 1988. law enforcement agencies’ turrmver statistics were higher for virtually every support staff series than in non-law Law Enforcement and enforcement agencies. Table II.2 compares nationwide law enforcement Non-Law Enforcement and non-law enforcement quit rates for the 14 support series. As shown Agencies Because of the in this and subsequent tables. the clerk-typist series is usually among FBI’s Quit Rate the highest in quit rates irrespxtive of the agency or location involved. .- - Tablo II2 Comprriron ot Law Edorcommc ti Non-Larr Enlorcemenl Agencies’ ouit Rtier lar SWctmd Support staff Sails lw Fiti-WlW Law enforcement Non-law 6nforcomont S0fi.S ml. -- -~-~- --- -~ __..__. .~----- 0300 Securtty admm~strat~on 1.15 0132 _-..-- ~-I Intethgence ___. ----~ _~_.~ ~. - 0301 -__- M6cellaneous .__. --~ - anaprogram .-.. ------ admtnlstratron 0303 Ml~ellaneous clerk and ass&& ._-. -.. 030s --.-- - :darland We 0318 ~- .- -. .-...- - -. .~- - 1778 2.09% _ _.-. 1347 -.--_ Gii Clerk,typtst __-~ _ _ .~~ ---37.416 .-.I ..--. .---132 0332 Computer o*rallon :4:88 168 347 9.062- _-___429 .._ .~. _ 033 -... __ Computerspecrallsl 6 1J 651 L”a7 ~-42.436 2 59 0356 DaIaIranscrIber 18 14 226 727 5.766 250 6393 - Communications speclal61 442- -113. 241 ----__-~ 3.117 --___ 1 0.3 ._ . 0525 Attounting technclaii 901 -. 566 464 19.978 1 94 05a Vouiher examlfirng 1264 - 148 .. _~ ---.661 .----- 5.202 ~-.-~__ 194 Iiim Comphance rnspectron anb supoor: -. 506 I ?39 5 70 952 0.08 Avera& (we&ted1 -- t101"6 - 6 22% 1 77 As table II-2 illustrates, consolidated quit rate statistics for fderal law enforcement agenck were higher than quit rates for non-law enforce- nwnt fdwal agencies during kcal year 1988 for 13 of the 14 support 54~ies. Overall. quit rate stat&k for law enforcement agencies were &Jut ii percent greater than for non-Iaw enforcement agencies. The quit KltCstatistics for computer operation in law enforcement agencies w8zre about 4 times greater than for non-law enforcement agencies. The quit rate statisticlj fr)r mail and file. computer specialist,. and data tran- scriber were about 2 1: 2 times greater in law enforcement agencies than in non-law enforcement agencies. Our funher analyses of the fiscal year 1988 quit rates within the law enforcement agencies show that the FM’Squit rates account primarily for the overall difference between law enforcement and non-Iaw enforcement quit rates. Table Il.3 shows that the FM’Saverage quit rate frK all of the Wcupational fries was 16.52 percent-almost 2 l/2 times eater than all of thP other law enforcement agencies. By excluding the EM data. the average quit rate for ocher L.M- enforcement agencies (6.69 percent] is about comparable to the 692 percent shown in tabte 11.2for non-law enforcement agencies. -.. .- ..,.--. Table 11.4: Comparison ot Fiacd Year 1981 Law Enforcsmenl8nd Non-Law Enforcement Support Staff Quit tlaler in High- end Low-Cost Cities Law enforcement age&e* Non-law enforcement mencier - kgh-cost cltier Low-cosi cities -__---- --__ High-cost cities Low-cost cities Quit Average OUlt Average Quit Average Ouit Avemge Title rate population rrte population rate pOplJlUti6~ me pOpUbti5fl Securttb admnsrr3tlc~ 8 ‘0” 0 Cd xc OQC~, 2 16% 1 624 s7:"b 35 Wteilqence .:fl 37’ CCC ;r 53 1068 000 24 bhlscellaneou5 admin~stral~on anC proyam .a 20 !0940 1 OT 396 ‘hscellaneous clerk an0 awstanl 7 32 11 a24 4 35 1011 ‘Jab1and IlIe ., 77 3 359 557 521 Secrewi ‘Y7 28 j!8 537 1 325 c’erk TtD61 * 7 74 '0 030 11 63 361 Comoufer~operal~o~ 3 56 1 403 2 11 237 Cornpurer spec!allS! -' 78 14 203 2 79 789 Oara Iranscelber 307 657 508 177 Ccmmunlcabzns speclaltst 2 84 881 Acccunmg tectvcw 5 38 3 399 ‘:oucher edam8nlrr 3 532 870 Compliance 17specI1cn and sur.,port 7 69 :59 ‘Au&&e l~&ghTed: 7 34% ..\s table II.4 indicates, borh lxw vrrforr.cmtnt and non-law enforcement ;igcnc.lt~s’suppcrrt staff turnc)v~~r.on an overall basis. was greater in high-cost metropolitan arra!! rh;ln in low-cost metropolitan areas. For each support staff seriw at the law enforcement agencies, the staff tum- of’er was greater in high-cost c’itks compared with the low-cost cities. In non-law enforcement itgencit*s. it ic’xs greater in high-cost cities in 11 of the 1-I series. The table also indicates that. with the exception of the compliance inspection and supwrt *rics. law enforcement quit rates exceeded all non-law enforcement quit rates in high-cost cities. The law enforcement agencies’ average quit rate for all of the series was twice that of non-law enforcement agencies in high-cost cities. On the other hand. in low-cost cities. the average quit rate for non-law enforcement agencie was about 1 3,‘4 times greater than that of the law enforcement agencies combined. Appendb 11 %lppoH St8fr-nlmover st8u8tlcl vuy Rotwee L8w Edorcernent 8nd !Wt-Law comment Ageode Prlmully lkw8uBToc the FBI’S Quit ht@ Factors beyond pay accrlunt fr~r thv apparent diffcrcncc in quit rates experienced by law cnforcemcnt agencies in the high-cost cities. The tT)t’squit rates were again higher than those of the other law cnforce- ment agencies in almost all serit! in the high-cwsccities. When FBIdata were excluded. the non-law enforcement agencies’ average quit rate was within 1 l/2 percent of that for law enforcement agencies combined. So single city was responsible for making the t’m’s c~erall quit rates higher than those of the other law cnforccmcnt agencies in the high-cmt cities. Turnover of law enforcement support staff is it critical problem. accord- aw Enforcement ing to many law enforcement managers. The majority f-57 percent) of Gknagers Perceive law enforcement field office managers interviewed by SXIG in 1989 upport Staff reported having difficulties retaining qualified support staff. In addi- tion. law enforcement managers and personnel specialists told USthat ‘umover as a Critical retaining qualified support staff is even more difficult than recruiting Voblem them. According to law enforcement managers. high turnover creates support staff shortages in many offices and results in increased rxruit- ing and training costs and lost productivity. .apid Turnover L-eaves Turnover and recruiting problems have rcsuittd in support staff shortages in many federal law enforcement offices. An analysis of sup- lany Law Enforcement port positions in the !%cret Service’s Los Angel- office showed that lffices Understaffed one-third of them were unfilled during fiscal years l9M and 1989. Simi- Iarly. the Secret Service’s Boston office reported having GOpcrccnt of its support staff positions unfilled between 19Fkiand 1989. Federal law enforcement recruiters said they espend considerable time and effort recruiting new support staff. Only to see a large number leave within a relatively short period of time. According to law enforcement managers, it is not uncommon for a single position to turn over several times during the course of a year. FBIand Secret Service managers refer to this situation as the support personne1 “revolving door.” That is, new support employees acquire training and experience at government expense and then leave for higher paying jobs in the private sector. According to Secret Service and FBI officials, federal law enforcement agencies have become support staff “training grounds” for law firms, banks, and other private employers. In this regard, Secret tin-ice offi- cials told us that their support staff, having met the agency’s high hiring standards, become very attractive to other employers. l%ge 19 Similarly. itccording to t ht* C’hicf of the l’erscmnct Kt?jcmrcc?i(‘nit. bet wevn fiscal yews I980 3rd 1988. over one-half of the support staff rcAgn;~tions from FM headquarters were employees with 2 years or less (II n!n%c. C)vcrall. cmly IS percvnt of tw support staff stay with the llureau until retircmcnt. ligh Turnover Is As discussed in appendix I. replacing law enforcement staff is espensive and time consuming. The Secret Service and n%rc3timafc that it costs an Zxpensive average of W.iOO to replace professional and support staff. The cumu- 1;ctivc costs of replacing employees c;in be particularly high when the sittIlt’ Ix)sjticrn must be filled on a recurring basis. l’hc~ cstinuites of the cost of turnover are limited to the more direct posts of rccnriting new employetts. Total turnover costs are likely to be much higher. since they also include such indirect costs as lost produc- tivity while the position is vacant, the disruptive effect of the vacancy on related jobs, loss of experience, reduction of work quality while the replacement learns the job. and inoreascd requirements for trainmg and supemision. Law enforcement personnel spcyiaiists were not able to pro- itide training cost estimates for new support employees because most law enforcement support training is conducted on the job and because training costs vary by job series. They did note. however, that clerk- typists can learn word processing within a few weeks of on-the-job training, whereas new intelligence research specialists spend a J-ear training on the job. ligh Turnover Inhibits Costs associated with lost productivity are difficult to quantify. Iiow- ever, according to law enforcement managers, they include the costs of ‘roductivity ( 1) relying on inexperienced support staff and (2) having agents per- form clerical duties. ~re#$,,~~ staffs &I? Frequent turnover results in support staffs composed of gem?raHy inex- perienced employees with little knowledge and skill. according to law mover Fksults in Agents In many ft4cral IilW cnforcrmcnt offices, support staff turnover ha.5 forming support Staff forced inwstigatiw prwnnt+ to perform various support functions in WtiOtlS order to m;lint:iin clfficic%ntopwations, thus creating morale and prtduc- tivity problems. InfornIill surveys conducted by the FHI’SChicago and SW+ York fi~~ltfotfic~cs in !&rrch 1989 and July 1989, reqectivcly, indi- catcd that ;I sllbstiult ial number of agents were spending a significant pw-tficm01 tlwir timtb on tlrltic?i that they ~rccivc-d rc~uld or should bc done by SU~~IKTcmploycw. One agent commented: This sitwtirm W:IS;tlso rcl;ttwl at the Secret Serx+e. where one manager comm~ntcd that dw to t hc shortage of support staff, agents must spend their time on clt~rical duties. such as filing and photocopying, as well a~ on technical dutws. such :LSdata entry on fraud and forgery operations and checking c.ountcrft~it notes. Page 21 GAO/ GGDM Frdclrt kw Enfwcemenr Support Staff mKIix III aw Enfcrc~ment Support Staff Compensation I Not ConsideredCompetitive With onfederaJ,sector - S&stantial clvidcncv vsists tlut feilr!ral sector pay is nc-t compfxitivc with private stu’tor pay for comparable support positions. AIthough spe- cial salary rates. whcrc+av;ulablc. IIaIMW the @p bctwccn federal and pnvatc support salarics. indicatiwts are that they have not been suffi- cient to make federal salaries competitive. Federal law enforcement sup port salarics aLso apparently cannot compete with support salarit5 in some IW:~ law enfwccmcnc ap;encies.Federal law enforcement manag- tarsAd two rclatcti conscquenct*s of the pay disparity between their agcncir?; itnd both the private swtor and local agencic5 arc that 0 federal law enforcement agencies find attracting and retaining quaIified support personnel increasingly difficult, and l the overall quality of candidates who do apply for law cnforctmcnt sup- pxt prjitions h&s declined markedly. Sumcrous studies document the pay disparities between the federal and cumented Disparity private sMors. According to the August 1989 report of the I’rcsident’s tween Federal and pay advisors. there was it gap averaging 29 percent betwcwn federal sal- ivate Sector Salaries arics and private salaries for comparable positions. To achieve compare- bility with t ht* private sector, the pay advisors recommend4 that ft&~ral salaries h increased at a graduated rate. from about 20 pcrccnt at GS-1 to almostit 37 percent at GS-15. Similarly, a 1589 study commissioned by WM found a significant pay gap between federal and private ~alaries.~Of the .51positions ctudied, prifpatc sector salary lcvcls exccyded federal levels by at least POper- cent for 31)of’ the positions and by Xl percent or more for lti of the positions. Table 111.I shows mran federal salaries and private sector sal- a? ranges rcpcbrtc’d in the study for selected support positions. - -- 11.1: Comparison of Federal and ,- -._ - , sector Salaries for Selected Privrt* ¶ectof range rt Staff Portions F.&d SerierJgrade TM* __ mean __~ .I _ .__- -~~-. 30313 Millscellane’ous clefk SliS?E! - 514,771 ’ $19 406 30513 “iratl and Me -._- 13607 ~- ‘3~3c6 -- ~. ~---L- _- l 19732 322i4 Clerk typlsl --_.. 14.835 -. -. 14652~~~ - _-- -~. 22.517 l 525.4 - Accoufwng lechncc~a~ 14.812 17332 . 22.781 318;5 Secrelary - 17.237 _---... -- ---17 374 _ ------.” l 22.255 _ 334!5 Compuler sp&~al~st 16 ~-_- 275 -..- 22.183 .----___ l 26030 .-- 332:6 Carnouler operation 18.905 a.314 . 26,211 Source $a~ cl Federal Employee Locdl~ty Pay Wall Campny As the table illustrates. mean federal salaries (whictl include special sal- ary rates riisc,rlsscd Mow 1 XP less than private seWor .:alarics for many support positions. .\ttracting and retaining qualified support staff is difficult even for ications That positions coverod by special salary rates.-’according to law entorcement cial Rates Are Not m;magrrs and personnel specialists. For example. in one Secret Service ficient to Compete field office. all-of the cleri&l positions covered by special rates have turned over at least once during the last 3 years. and .semehave turned h Private Sector over wvcral times. In the opinion of FBI and Secret $&-ice managers, wies special salary rates are “too little too late.” OPMhas remntiy :estified that the special rate program is unable to adequately zxidress the need for variances from the General Schedule. Moreover. law enforcement managers and personnel specialists said special salary rates create morale problems. For example. becausespecial rates apply to only cer- tain occupations at certain grades, siP,ations exist in which supervisors are not eligible to receive the special rates their subordinates receive. Page 23 GAO/GMMMO Fdud law Enforcement Support Staff J Gap Exists .ween Federal and ne Local Law forcement Support aries I,aa t’nforc*camcnl mimagcrs ;md personnel specialists consider ncncom- I Disparity pctiti\.cb compensation the lc;irling cause of their recruitment and reten- lsidered Cause of cion probl~~ms.This I’W!Vis generiiliy supported by owt, GAO, and other studios th:ir indicate rhat noncompetitive federal salaries comribute to truitment and rr~~ruirmcnt ;tnd rctrntion problems throughout the federal government. ention Problems lagers Believe In t III* trpinion of m3ny ftYilhritl law enforcement managers. noncompeti- tlvc compcnsatlon is thr primary cause of their support staff recruit- competitive mrnt and retention problems. Of the 102 federal law enforcement lpensation Is managers S.KI.E interviewed. i0 considered inadequate pay for support ponsible for staff t(J be a problem. Of the prdAemS affecting law enforcement sup- ruitment and Retention port staff reported by these managers, pay was cited most often. Aems SirnililrIy. the law enforcement managers, recruiters, and staffing spe- cialists we sprbkt with consider inadequate compensation to be the major contributor to their rccruitme!it and retention difficulties. In their expe- rience. betow-market starting salaries prevent federal law enforcement agencies from competing with the private sec?or for qualified, experi- cnccd support staff. A law enforcement manager explained that his office gets Jvhat it pays for and attracts young and inexperienced work- crs who lack the skills lo comprte in the prh-ate sector. As with recruitment. law enforcement managers consider noncompeti- tive compensation the leading causeof high support staff turnover. A December 1989 Secret Se17-ictbmemorandum stated that the support staff “quit for pay” rate could be characterized in one word--“EXO- DE” The .Secret !W-Cce tracked all support staff resignations from the . + 18 cited “better salty’” as their rcl;dSr,nfor leaving; . 1-l iIccTpt4 higher paying jobs in the private seWor.3 transferred to c,ther fctir~ral agencies. and 1 went to a local law enforcement agency; iitld Similarly, each of the .il sc?port rmployws who rl5igned from the FBI SIV liavtn tlffice between 1983 and 1989 cited the need to SAC higher in[.ixie ;LS t!~c principal reas0n for Iewing. --- - Studies Support the View CPX (;.A(,.and other studies crmclude that noncompetitive iederal sala- rics contribute to federal recruitment and retention problems. According That Noncompetitive Pay to the 1989 Wyatt study: Is a Problem Similarly, in 1989 we reported that (1) to recruit and retain a quality wr)rkfr,tce, the federal government must pay competitive salaries and benefits and (2) the competition from the private sector was hurting the federal government’s ability to maintain the quality it needsto be effec- tlve: In addition, the 1989 report by the President’s pay advisors cau- tioned that the federal government’s *.ontinued ability to recruit and retain qualified employees is dependent upon pay comparability adjustments. A 1989 employee exit surw_v conducted by the U.S. -Merit Systems Pre tection IkJard to determine reasons why employees resign from the fed- eral government also tends to confirm these views. The responses of a limited sample of professional and support staff lewing the Depart- ments of Justice and Treasury sugg+z&xl that compensation was one of the more important reasons for their resignations. Other important rea- sons included employees’ (1) desire to pursue nonwork interests and i improve career opportunities u~tnd (2) tfiss;rtisfac%ion with various / aspwts of !he job. such as poor use trf I heir skills and unfair treatment. I _ i Noncompetitive dcclincn in applicant quality. acmrding to law enforrvment managers and I I Compensation Also pcrwnnel spwialists. Declining applicant quality, in turn, results in poor I Considered Cause of quality support staffs. managers believe. For example. according to an kw manager. in January l!%N the WI’S Sew York field office tested 303 Staff Quality Decline support applicants in basic skills and abilities. and only 44 passed, a lower passing rate than was experienced in prior years. Overall, this office recruits and tests over 33 applicants for every 1 successful appli- r.ant it brings on board. Because federal salaries are not competitive with the private sector, law enforcement managers and personnel specialists said they are fre quently forced fo fill positions with minimally qualified candidates. The cumulative result, they believe, is a marked decline in the quality of law enforcement support staffs. Managers expressed concern over the potential impact this workforce may have on agency operations. More- over. since law enforcement agencies frequently promote their support supen?sors and office managers from within. law enforcement officials arc also concerned about the potential effect the quality of this workforce will have on their future ability to staff such positions. How- ever. none of the law enforcement managers or personnel specialists we interviewed could provide any objective measure of the decline in sup- port staff quality because they do not systematically track applicant test scores or support staff performance over the years. Page 26 l?i.sd Year 1988 Transfer Ratesfor i!Wcted support Staff series -.-- l.Me IV.2: Comparison of FBI, 0th~ l.aw . -- -,, -.. Enforcement and Non-hw Eniorcemont Ag*ncior’ SuppOrt Stdf TrWWiOr RMeS in H~II- and Low-Cost C-S for FIwL Fel Year 49aa %nder Series Title mtepc$z KY0 Scc:,rl!, .lc!~lln~srraflon 2.78% 72 a:32 ?!Clll:plCC 435 92 GO1 ‘.‘5.~~~l3~~~0~~~damtn6trarfon and program 3.29 152 ---_II 3X3 *.‘~s~dan~~u~ c!err and assManl 4 15 772 _I-~ ~_ c305 ‘,#a!1dnrl 1~112 401 1,570 - ---- OS:8 Zecre!ar, 1 15 436 .-__ a322 E Fir t,pst 492 447 r,332 Zmouwr speralion 106 94 .;‘,34 S~mcb:cr :Eor..atlst 2 71 22t .-- 5356 3afa transcrlher 569 123 --___ c393 Ckmmufw3tians specraltsl 7 14 14 C525 Accounf~ni; ffcnnfclan 2.u 41 c5-m Jcljcher ezamlnrng 536 93 1EC2 Camptfancc mspectlon and supporl.-- 4 52 155 A ;eral;c .vciq”tcdl 3 76% .._ Low-cnatcitbes Othw law enforcement Non-law enkwcement _-... FBI-~- __- rgencies aaencw Transfer Average Trader Average Tmnrfer Avemgu rate population rate poptdmiom mte pqwlation , ji:-- J J CG’O t 286% 35 I’, ‘2CG I 000 24 .> ,..I I ‘X 6 1 52 396 : 30 27 3 46 1011 : 36 6 3 45 521 i 33 30 498 1025 3 co 11 942 261 1 27 237 I 14 709 1 13 177 500 ~40 3 a9 560 1 19 84 .I 00 76 000 13 7 60’7 3 48% Appendix V Major Contributurs to This Report LII-ry t I. Endy. Assis;lnt Duwtor, Fedtrat I tuman Resource Manage- General Government ment Issws Division, Washington, Hr,bcrt A. Kclrinchak. Assignment !&wager c-1 Page 30 GAO/GGDtHl40 Federal JAW Fhhmmnent Support SUU r l .. . . I Permit 5). (; IO0 (bfficial Busiwss I’rnalty for Pri\,ate 1-w S300
Law Enforcement: Recruitment, Retention, and Compensation of Support Staff
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-05-22.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)