Sequester-related CBP cuts are on hold, says report
April 03, 2013
When the federal budget sequestration cuts were recently rolled out, there were various components of it which stood to have a significant negative impact on U.S. Customs and Border Protection on multiple fronts, including requiring all CBP employees to be furloughed up to 14 days during the remainder of fiscal year 2013 or one day per pay period from early-to-mid April through September 30 and a subsequent ten percent pay cut.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said before the Senate Appropriations Committee in March that “sequestration would have significant negative impacts on our economy, including travel, tourism, and trade” and:
-reductions mandated under sequestration would require furloughs and reduced staffing at U.S. points of entry and airports security checkpoints, increasing wait times for travelers and slowing commerce across the country;
-reduced CBP staffing would make four to five hour wait times commonplace and cause the busiest ports to face gridlock situations at peak periods and lead to long delays in U.S. commercial lanes as cargo waits to enter U.S. Commerce; and
-reduce inspectional overtime at CBP by $37.5 million and also result in longer wait times at points of entry
But these dire circumstances may not fully come to fruition, according to a report in the Washington Post.
According to the report, “CBP has postponed the elimination of furloughs to its employees and the elimination of overtime,” which came as a result of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, which was signed into law last week.
The report cited an agency memo sent to CBP employees that would allow CBP to mitigate to some degree the impacts of the reduced budget on operations and on CBP’s workforce.
And it cited CBP Deputy Commissioner as saying that ““in light of the new funding bill, we are re-evaluating previously planned furloughs and de-authorization of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO), and will postpone implementation of both changes pending that re-examination.”
When the potential changes in CBP operations due to sequestration were initially issued, it was not entirely surprising, according to Albert Saphir, principal of ABS Consulting, in Bradenton, Florida.
“It was not a surprise to me, with most at CBP, TSA etc. having to take off 4 hours of every 40 hours worked,” he said. “No overtime and no new hiring [could] put a squeeze on resources and we all will need to wait longer for many things that we have accustomed to being taken care of faster. The same goes on the passenger side, delays at major airports of foreign arrival at CBP/Immigration and also at TSA screening lines. We just have become accustomed to so many ‘benefits’ that maybe now both the trade and the private traveler will notice and maybe this will help lay groundwork for appropriate changes.”
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