AUO and excludable days

As a result of the recent efforts throughout Laredo and other Border Patrol sectors to encourage Border Patrol Agents to monitor and curtail their Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO), there has been a great deal of misinformation circulated by managers and bargaining unit employees about AUO processes. One of the most misunderstood concepts is the numeric value of AUO Excludable days. Some recent numbers we have heard and the subsequent rationale for that value are listed below.

Take a look at the arguments for each amount and make a determination as to which value you believe is correct, then check out the correct answer.

 AUO Excludable has the regular, calculated value of,

 1.1 hour of AUO, because this is the amount that you actually place on your SF-1012, Time and Attendance sheet and other documents.

2.1.775 hours of AUO, because the excludable day figures into the 120 day AUO audit period, not the pay period.

3.1.8 hours, because while “B” is correct the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has opted to round up all fractions past tenths for calculation purposes.

4.2.0 hours because AUO Excludable is valued at the maximum AUO rate possible for eligible employees under 5 CFR 550.154.

5.0 hours of AUO, because it is “excludable” and thus that day is not considered when the AUO rate is averaged.

While each of the selections above seem plausible, there is only one correct option. Selection A makes sense from a practice standpoint, as AUO eligible employees only claim 1 in AUO Excludable fields where they would place an equivalent amount of AUO, or 0100-0000 in the COSS system. Selections B and C also make convincing arguments. We found the justification for B on the Honor first message board in a thread about excludable days where a commenter was attempting to address the AUO Excludable issue. The selection for D is a value that we have heard before, but the rationale was made up for this exercise. That leaves E, the correct answer as per law, OPM regulations, and Agency policy.

AUO Excludable days have no numeric value and are simply removed from the work days counted in the AUO average calculation. The most complete document on the application of AUO is the Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime Training Manual (1997) produced way back when Border Patrol was a component of the now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Page 17 of that document reads, “In computing the weekly average of overtime worked by the employee, the Department of Justice provides that certain days can be excluded from the computation in units of a full day.” Notice it does not say that AUO Excludable days, “shall be valued at 1, 1.775, or 1.8 hours.” That same document also states the type of work eligible for AUO Excludable, “holidays, temporary assignments of 10+ consecutive days when AUO is discontinued, paid leave” and, “training periods when AUO was not performed”.

 We didn’t write this article to teach fourth grade mathematics, but it may be simpler to explain the value of AUO Excludable by explaining how we derive an AUO average under normal circumstances. AUO is calculated on the basis of a weekly average (5 CFR 550.154). Consider the following example schedule:

Day 1 = 1.5

Day 2 = 2.5

Day 3 = 1.25

Day 4 = 2.0

Day 5 = 2.0

This agent would accumulate 9.25 hours total AUO for that week. They also would have maintained a daily average of 1.85 hours of AUO per day worked [total AUO (9.25) ÷ days worked AUO (5)]. 9.25 hours a week is over the 9 hour a week required to receive 25% AUO — this part we know.

Calculating the effect of an AUO Excludable day is simple: one simply subtracts that day from the number of days worked AUO. So, let’s use the sample above but instead say one has firearms qualifications on Day 2. The AUO schedule would now look like:

Day 1 = 1.5

Day 2 = AUO Excludable

Day 3 = 1.25

Day 4 = 2.0

Day 5 = 2.0

We now have a total of 6.75 AUO hours worked that week. Your new daily average would be 1.69 hours of AUO per day (total AUO (6.75) ÷ days worked AUO (4)). In order to approximate the correct AUO percentage for that work week, take the daily average of AUO (1.69) and multiply that by the total number of days worked (5 days) regardless of whether the day was AUO Excludable or not [daily average AUO (1.69) x total days in work week (5)] for an average of 8.44 hours. If your schedule maintained this average, you would not make the 25% AUO level and would instead fall into a 20% AUO category. 

Consider this scenario again, but assume that an agent had the exact same hours of AUO but had AUO Excludable on Day 3. How would this change the overall average and what AUO percentage would be appropriate? Well, the schedule would instead appear as:

Day 1 = 1.5

Day 2 = 2.5

Day 3 = AUO Excludable

Day 4 = 2.0

Day 5 = 2

The total AUO worked in the week would amount to 8 hours, for a daily average of 2 AUO hours per eligible day. For AUO percentage calculations, we would now use 10 hours of AUO (daily average AUO (2) x total days in work week (5) = 10). This is well above the minimum necessary for a 25% AUO payment and more than the total generated by the first example. 

This brings us to another important point. Because AUO Excludable days are not valued as a set number, and instead fluctuate based on the AUO worked within the work week, it is very easy to have a beneficial or deleterious impact by using the AUO Excludable option. One can easily reduce or enhance the total average AUO determination if they frequently use AUO Excludable. Be wary of any manager that tells you that AUO Excludable counts as a specific value. We had a case where a Border Patrol Supervisor was wrongfully informing his subordinates that because AUO Excludable was worth 2 hours of AUO, those agents could now work less AUO without negatively impacting their averages. Whether this was deliberate or due to his ignorance is unknown, but it is utterly wrong.

NOTE: Local 2455 does understand that the AUO rate is calculated over a number of pay periods to determine a weekly average and it would require regular use of AUO Excludable to alter a typical employee’s rate of AUO pay. However, even a minor miscalculation could affect employees on the cusp of two different AUO percentages, tipping the employee into one rate or another.