District of Columbia Government:

Overtime Costs Exceed Those of Neighboring Governments

GGD-97-159BR: Published: Sep 11, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the District of Columbia government's overtime expenditures, focusing on: (1) the amount and extent of the District's overtime expenditures for fiscal years (FY) 1992 through 1997; (2) reasons provided by District officials for those overtime expenditures; (3) how the District's overtime expenditures compared with those of selected surrounding jurisdictions for FY 1996; and (4) how the District's overtime management policies compared with those of the selected surrounding jurisdictions.

GAO noted that: (1) in FY 1996, which was the most recently completed fiscal year, the District government's overtime expenditures totaled approximately $82.9 million, which represented about 6 percent of the District's total salary costs; (2) between FY 1992 and 1996, the District of Columbia government's overtime expenditures ranged from a low of approximately $67.2 million in FY 1995 to a high of approximately $98.8 million in FY 1994; (3) the District's overtime expenditures, when measured as a percentage of total salary costs, ranged from a low of 4.6 percent in FY 1995 to a high of 6.3 percent in FY 1994; (4) through April of FY 1997, these expenditures were approximately $53.4 million, which represented 7.3 percent of total salary costs; (5) in FY 1996, eight departments accounted for 97 percent of the District government's overtime expenditures; (6) some reasons for overtime expenditures commonly reported by District officials included staff management policies that seek to address staff shortages, workforce reductions, and the inability to fill position vacancies, addressing external mandates, such as consent decrees and court orders that specify staffing or service levels, infrastructure deficiencies, such as the need to repair or maintain out-of-date facilities or equipment, and mission requirements, such as the necessity to provide functions or services related to public safety; (7) the District's governmentwide overtime expenditures as a percentage of total salary costs (6 percent) were higher than those of the selected surrounding jurisdictions in FY 1996; (8) governmentwide overtime expenditures as a percentage of total salary costs for the city of Baltimore were 5 percent; for Montgomery County, 5.3 percent; for Prince George's County, 2.8 percent; and Fairfax County, 2 percent; (9) the District government and the governments of all of the selected surrounding jurisdictions had written overtime policies that reported compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act; (10) however, the policies of the District and the selected surrounding jurisdictions varied in their requirements for advance approval of overtime, written justification for overtime work, provisions for jurisdiction-level and department-level overtime audits, and the reporting of overtime pay in the annual budget; and (11) only Fairfax County's overtime management policies addressed all of these policy elements.

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