Agent pay and benefits are not the cause of this country’s fiscal problems, and cutting these benefits would have minimal impact on reducing the deficit.  However, federal employees like FBI Agents may be tempting targets because we don’t have the financial wherewithal to impact the Super-Committee’s negotiations with large political operations or active political action committees.  Instead, we are working daily to protect this country by combating a wide array of crimes ranging from street gangs to mortgage fraud, and from foreign spy networks to anti-terrorism operations.
Due to the stress and physical danger inherent in serving as a federal law enforcement officer, we contribute more of our salaries to our pensions because of an earlier retirement age.  This has not stopped some from targeting federal employee pensions, which will have severe implications for FBI Agents.
Under some proposals submitted to the Super-Committee, Agents would face significant cuts in their take-home pay and retirement benefits as a result of having to pay more for fewer benefits.  For example, some lawmakers are seeking to require more than a fourfold increase in mandatory pension contributions, which would amount to more than five percent cut in pay for agents.  Simultaneously, these same proposals call for a switch to a “high five” policy of calculating retirement benefits, which would result in reduced benefits when agents retire.  Historically, retirement benefits have been predicated on the highest salary obtained by federal employees over a three-year period.  These proposals would compound the two-year pay freeze for FBI Agents and other federal employees already imposed by President Obama in 2010.
These types of draconian cuts would have immediate and negative consequences to the families of thousands of dedicated FBI Agents.  Many FBI Agents made important family decisions based on a known set of circumstances, which now may be arbitrarily changed to satisfy the frenzy over a perceived public/private sector pay gap.  This is an issue of fundamental fairness for these Agents, many of whom have forsaken more lucrative jobs in the private sector in order to serve their country and society.
Targeting FBI Agent pay and benefits won’t do much to resolve this country’s fiscal challenges, but these cuts would cause long lasting damage to the Bureau’s morale and undermine recruitment and retention efforts.  Under a reduced pay scenario, it would be more difficult to recruit highly-skilled Agents who are essential for the fight against criminal and terrorist networks, and more senior and experienced personnel would likely retire earlier to new careers in the private sector.
We strongly urge Congress to leave intact pay and compensation benefits for all federal employees.  Given the national security implications of changes to compensation contained in some proposals submitted to the Super-Committee, we believe Congress must protect the pay and benefits of federal law enforcement officers.  FBI Agents are vital to this country's security, and, just like there are no active plans to tamper with military pensions, the same justification for this type of exemption applies equally to FBI Agents and other federal law enforcement officers.
FBI Agents do not seek elevated salaries or end-of-year bonuses.  We share sacrifice and are honored to serve and protect the public and only ask the assurance of a reasonable and stable income and a respectable retirement.  Congress should reject proposals to cut FBI Agent benefits that would hurt thousands of dedicated Agents and their families who have faithfully and effectively served the United States.
Konrad Motyka is President of the FBI Agents Association, a professional association with a membership of nearly 12,000 active and retired FBI agents nationwide.