ATF Whistleblower Claims Agency Giving Bonuses to Unqualified Employees

A former information specialist for the ATF claims that the agency is giving bonus pay to unqualified employees. (Photo: CBS)

Speaking to CBS, an Army veteran and whistleblower formerly with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, is alleging that the agency is employing a bonus system that could be costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The scheme involves what’s known as Law Enforcement Availability Pay, or LEAP bonus pay. These LEAP bonuses are offered to select employees that perform special investigative duties which requires them to be on-call and work unscheduled hours.

Employees eligible for LEAP bonuses get a 25 percent increase over their base pay as compensation for their additional work. The whistleblower is alleging that employees in administrative positions are receiving LEAP bonuses even if they don’t qualify for them.

“So, if you were making $100,000 and you got LEAP, you would get $125,000,” the whistleblower said, asking to remain anonymous with just the name “Joe.”

“If you were functioning in an administrative capacity, you don’t qualify for the pay,” he said. “So you’re not supposed to get it. A lot of people were getting it.”

A former information specialist with the Human Resources Department, the whistleblower eventually lost his job after raising concerns about the LEAP bonuses going to administrative employees, not just investigators.

Emails from his supervisors indicate that they were upset about Joe’s complaints.

According to records, the whistleblower’s performance reviews went from “fully successful” in 2019 to “minimally successful” after making a complaint about the pay issues, eventually dropping to “unacceptable performance” before losing his position last summer.

Joe said the message was simple. “Don’t look over there,” he said. “Just because you see someone stealing money out of the ATM, you don’t have to say anything.”

An attorney with the Office of the Special Counsel, or OSC, began investigating the ATF last year. According to those reports, the OSC found “a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing.” The Office of Personnel Management found that approximately 94 inappropriately classified employees in an audit, and suspended the ATF’s authority to create certain jobs.

The OSC concluded that their audit has “broad implications” for the ATF.

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Author: Joey Webster

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