Border securityCBP sends out furlough notices to agency employees

Published 14 March 2013

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started sending furlough notices to its employees, the result of the agency’s need to cope with a 5 percent sequestration-related reduction in salaries and expenses. Border patrol agents say the cuts will hobble efforts to make the border more secure.


The Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  has started sending furlough notices to its employees, the result of the agency’s need to cope with  a 5 percent sequestration-related reduction in salaries and expenses.

Federal New Radio says it has obtained the furlough notice, which informs the 60,000 employees of the agency that  the breaks will start after 21 April and will run throughout the fiscal year. Full-time employees will be given two weeks off and part-time employees will be pro-rated.

“Due to the uncertain and potential fluctuating amount of funding which may be available to CBP, the number of hours per pay period required for the furlough may vary,” the notice stated. “Accordingly, if the decision is made to furlough, you will be advised in advance of each pay period of the number of furlough hours required to allow CBP to meet its financial obligations.”

Border Patrol agents say they are being treated unfairly.

“Customs and Border Protection has used sequestration as political cover to slash salary,” National Border Patrol Council vice president Shawn Moran told “The Federal Drive” radio program. “They’ve been charged with getting rid of $285 million worth of salary, $245 million of which comes directly from Border Patrol agents,” Moran added.

According to CBP’s deputy commissioner David Aguilar, the agency will have to cut $754 million by the end of the fiscal year, implementing a hiring freeze, reducing and eliminating overtime hours, and making cuts to travel time and training.

“We’re not asking for more money,” Moran told Federal News Radio. “We’re just asking for what we were promised by the federal government to do our job.”

Moran also said that the budget cuts will result in salaries being cut by 40 percent, but a CBP spokesman said it is not that simple.

CBP’s planned furlough of employees, along with reductions to overtime, will reduce take home earnings for many members of the CBP workforce. CBP is focusing its remaining resources on its core mission areas, operating in the way that is least disruptive to the facilitation of lawful travel and trade and our employees, while not compromising our security mission. Because CBP is reducing, but not absolutely eliminating overtime pay, and because the length of the sequestration is unknown, it is difficult to project the impact of the reductions on individual employees or job occupations with any degree of certainty.”

In addition to furloughs and cutbacks in hours, the CBP is using other cost-cutting measures.

“Agents are being shuttled out to the field in vans,” Moran told Federal News Radio. “Vehicles are being left out on the border and agents are being brought to them. Some sectors are putting two agents in a vehicle. That’s the plan once these cuts go into effect.”

Moran said  these measures are hurting the agency, since its mission – keeping the border safe – depends on effective  deterrence.

“It’s about getting the most bodies to the border and trying to keep people out,” Moran said. “So, if you have 20 people working a 5-mile stretch and then you double them up in vehicles, you’ve now cut yourself by 50 percent in terms of how much area you can effectively cover.”