ATF Accused of Unlawfully Paying Agents Millions in Wrongful Benefits, Watchdog Says 

By Steve Neavling

ATF is accused of unlawfully dishing out up to $20 million to agents and investigators who worked in non-law enforcement positions by misclassifying them as law enforcement jobs, a government watchdog said

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alleged that the bureau only recruited and hired special agents or industry operations investigators for the jobs. 

ATF also “grossly wasted funds by providing legal benefits and increased pay reserved for persons in primary and secondary law-enforcement positions.”

The Office of Special Counsel said it had notified President Biden and Congress of “substantial waste, mismanagement and unlawful employment practices” involving high-level jobs at ATF, CNBC first reported.  

During a five-year period, 108 ATF employees who worked in non-law enforcement jobs “were improperly provided Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) and enhanced retirement benefits.” 

In addition, the special counsel said, the estimated $20 million in overpayments “could be much higher given that the unlawful job classifications had been common practice at ATF far longer than the five-year time frame reviewed by investigators.”

Fifty of the employees who held misclassified positions have either resigned or retired, according to OPM. 

The investigation was prompted by two ATF employees in the human resources department who blew the whistle on “gross waste of funds” and “gross mismanagement.”

OPM suspended ATF’s authority to classify employees as being in federal law enforcement positions “until matters are resolved to OPM’s satisfaction,” the office said in a letter to Biden. 

Leave a Reply