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Federal K-9 handlers earned more than Vice President Mike Pence last year

Three Federal Protective Service inspectors -- all so-called K-9 handlers -- logged so much overtime in 2017 that they earned more than the official salary of Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

The report, by the agency's Office of Inspector General and titled "The Federal Protective Service Has Not Managed Overtime Effectively," said its findings "raise significant concerns" about FPS' practices.

FPS, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is charged with protecting federal buildings, grounds and property. Inspectors' duties include controlling vehicular and pedestrian traffic; preventing people from carrying weapons, explosives and drugs onto government property; providing protection at protests and demonstrations; and responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. Overtime can be claimed for much of this work. 

For their part, K-9 handlers are paired with highly trained detection dogs to conduct searches for explosive materials in and around federal facilities.

"Extensive overtime"

Eleven of the nineteen inspectors whose compensation was reviewed by the Inspector General worked multiple, back-to-back shifts lasting 17 to 21 hours, according to the report. The "extensive overtime allowed seven inspectors to earn more than the most senior executives in the Federal Government, with three earning more than the Vice President of the United States," the report states. 

The role of Vice President has a salary of $240,100. In 2017, the total pay of the three K-9 handlers cited in the report ranged from $240,922 to $343,334. The top-earning officers made more than twice their regular salaries in overtime pay.

Five inspectors earned over $215,000 last year -- more than the maximum pay rate for senior political appointees, including cabinet-level Secretaries.

In total, the inspectors earned nearly $1.8 million -- or 48 percent of their total compensation -- in overtime pay in 2017.

Management flub

The report attributes the hefty pay strictly to excessive overtime, and also raises doubts about whether FPS inspectors accurately reported their work hours. Inspectors neglected to follow guidance on submitting overtime, while their supervisors failed to properly approve it, according to the report. 

FPS is projected to have a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2018 because of the lackluster supervision, which could put its mission at risk.

The report urged the head of the Federal Protective Service to recover the $1.8 million in OT payments, and also implement more stringent procedures to track overtime. Federal employees are required to repay the government any earnings they received in error, including OT pay, but can request that the agency waive the debt.

The violations were uncovered despite additional measures put in place last year to restrict overtime compensation. The use of overtime has since declined, according to the report.

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