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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
 Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

 
U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL SEEKS CORRECTIVE ACTION IN PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES CASE AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 1/13/06
CONTACT: LOREN SMITH, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov
    
      WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has filed a petition for corrective action with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), against the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). OSC’s petition, filed on January 9, 2006, alleges that the DHS Office of Border Patrol (formerly the U.S. Border Patrol) violated 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 2302(b)(6), when it granted an unauthorized preference during competition for promotions to border patrol agent (BPA) Michael Knowles; and 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(12) by assigning Mr. Knowles duties outside his position of record and authorizing administratively uncontrollable overtime pay (AUO).

According to the complaint, Mr. Knowles has been assigned to work outside of his position of record as a border patrol agent since approximately 1990, when he was unofficially detailed from a GS-9 BPA position at the Laredo Sector North Station and assigned to work exclusively on setting up computers and other telecommunication equipment at the Laredo Sector Headquarters. Mr. Knowles continued to work in the technology field for the next fourteen years; however, his official BPA position description was never changed and he continued to receive law enforcement pay and benefits. Mr. Knowles has allegedly been promoted up through GS-13 Supervisory BPA and has been receiving AUO premium pay from at least as far back as 1994 even though he has not been performing law enforcement duties.

On July 6, 2005, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 1214(b)(2)(B), the Special Counsel reported to DHS that the evidence adduced during an OSC investigation supported a finding that the agency had committed prohibited personnel practices. The Special Counsel asked the Secretary to respond to this report, but to date has failed to take any of the actions recommended in the OSC’s Corrective Action letter and Report of Prohibited Personnel Practices.


 

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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency. Among other functions, it investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging violations of the Hatch Act and provides advisory opinions regarding the Act’s requirements. For more information about OSC, please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1-800-872-9855.