Report finds excessive overtime in Marshals Service

A report by the Justice Department’s inspector general says the U. S. Marshals Service’s (USMS) office in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia needs to strengthen controls against waste, including excessive overtime.

The report, released Wednesday by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, said several employees “recorded over 1,000 hours of overtime each year and earned more than $35,000 each in overtime.” One person who was the  subject of an investigation into fraudulent overtime “recorded an average of 1,673 overtime hours each year and earned more in overtime ($68,331) than in base pay ($62,050).”

Efforts to reduce overtime have worked. Overtime dropped by almost half, from $2.7 million in fiscal 2009 to about $1.5 million in 2011, according to the report. Most of the overtime was due to staffing a cellblock.

“Supervisors told us they primarily relied on their experience and intuition to determine the number of weekday overtime shifts in the cellblock,” said the report. “We found this could potentially result in either overstaffing on the cellblock or understaffing that could risk the safety of those working and being held in the cellblock.”

The Marshals Service agreed with all of the inspector general’s recommendations to improve procedures and cost controls.

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.
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