Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is seeking information from multiple government agencies on reported misclassification of positions at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that allowed staff in administrative positions to receive additional compensation reserved for law enforcement officers. The allegations were first revealed by CBS News, which also reports that the whistleblower who called attention to the alleged misconduct is now facing retaliation.

“Without whistleblowers, Congress and managers in the Executive Branch of government, not to mention the public, would not find out about mismanagement and government waste of taxpayer dollars,” Grassley wrote in a letter to the attorney general and acting ATF director.

Federal law enforcement officers who are required to be available and responsive around the clock are eligible to receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay, or LEAP, which is designed to compensate them for work time beyond their regular work ours. LEAP benefits add an additional 25 percent to an employee’s base salary. Employees who work in an administrative capacity and aren’t required to be available during off hours are not eligible for LEAP. However, according to information received by the Judiciary Committee, some ineligible ATF employees are receiving LEAP. ATF’s practice of classifying administrative positions as law enforcement was so pervasive that the government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suspended ATF’s authority to classify new positions as law enforcement, so as to not make administrative employees eligible for LEAP benefits.

Grassley is seeking details on OPM’s suspension as well as data on the scale of abuse both in terms of instances and lost taxpayer dollars. He’s pressing for details on steps being taken by the Justice Department and ATF to rectify the situation and seeking information on similar behavior by other law enforcement agencies. Finally, Grassley admonished the agencies for failing to protect whistleblowers who bring attention to misconduct and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

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