For nearly five years, FBI leaders encouraged employees on temporary assignment in Iraq to bill an average of $45,000 in overtime and extra pay by routinely claiming to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, even when some of that time was spent eating, exercising, watching movies or attending cocktail parties, the Justice Department inspector general reported yesterday. The Washington Post said FBI counterterrorism division managers condoned a time-billing practice under which 1,150 employees between 2003 and 2007 earned about $71,000 during a typical 90-day tour — nearly triple the typical worker’s salary, Inspector General Glenn Fine reported.
The practice violated federal law and regulations and accounted for at least $7.8 million to the $99 million taxpayer cost of the FBI efforts. The FBI changed the overtime policy in 2008 while the investigation was underway. Using lower claims submitted by workers this year as a guide, the inspector general conservatively estimated that between 2003 and 2007, the typical employee earned about $5,594 per tour in unwarranted payments. FBI Assistant Director John Miller acknowledged that FBI headquarters management “allowed a flawed system to develop and remain in place too long.” Miller said FBI managers early on tried to adapt normal pay practices to “unprecedented wartime assignments” for FBI personnel who were living with sniper attacks, mortar fire and roadside bombs.