Labor Committee contests GAO’s findings regarding Capitol Police pay, benefits

The GAO was tasked with reviewing the Capitol Police’s pay and retirement benefits, comparing them with other federal police forces in the Washington, D.C., area. And their findings were very positive.

“USCP generally has enhanced retirement benefits, a higher minimum starting salary, and a wider variety of protective duties than other federal police forces in the D.C. metro area that GAO reviewed,” the report states.

“These enhanced benefits allow their officers to retire early and accrue retirement pensions faster than other federal police forces,” the report continued.

It’s this ability to retire early that is a particular bone of contention, according to Konczos, who along with the Labor Committee has been advocating that the department raise the mandatory retirement age from 57 to 60.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a lot of officers who have wanted to stay [until age 60] but have been told no,” he said.

Set under the Capitol Police Retirement Act, the relatively young mandatory retirement age is designed to maintain a youthful and vigorous workforce.

But, as Konczos pointed out to The Hill last year, officers are keeping fitter and more able longer. The Labor Committee has also argued that extending the retirement age means officers who retire later spend less time drawing benefits from the federal government and more time putting money into the benefit pool, which could result in a financial net benefit.

The GAO did not reach such findings, however. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the savings realized by the department through such a measure would be minimal.

“I don't see how anyone could argue with raising the mandatory retirement age since it would save the government ($9 million), which is why I am disappointed that OPM would respond that raising the age is not necessary,” wrote Konczos.

“For OPM to come out and say that this isn’t necessary and it wouldn’t be beneficial; I completely disagree,” he added.

Konczos also took issue with the GAO’s findings regarding the department’s pay scale, which stated that allowing an officer to reach maximum base pay at year 20 versus year 26 — as recommended by the Labor Committee — could increase the government’s direct salary costs.

“In my response to GAO, I did point out the discrepancy with our pay scale and upper management (Deputy Chiefs),” he wrote. The “U.S. Code gives the Police Board authorization for a ‘unified’ pay scale.

“Letting upper management max out at year 15 while everyone else goes to year 26 is not unified,” he added. “We have young Deputy Chiefs, and I believe this manipulated our retirement [Federal Employees Retirement System] to benefit them.”

The Capitol Police declined to offer comment on the contents of the report.

Konczos told The Hill he had already contested some of the report’s findings. But the Labor Committee chairman also expressed gratitude for the agency’s efforts.

“We think the GAO did a very good job with the report, and we can't thank Congressman Capuano and his staff enough for their help in getting this done,” he said.