Monday, December 24, 2012

DPS administrator raises: Where are the small-government conservatives when you need them?

The Austin Statesman has a story fleshing out the issue of administrator raises at the Texas Department of Public Safety ("Management positions, salary increase at DPS while state trooper pay raises languish," Dec. 22), a subject Grits had raised back in 2011 after state Sen. John Whitmire criticized lesser raises at what was then the Texas Youth Commission, demanding, ultimately successfully, that the raises be rolled back or the positions eliminated.

At the time, Grits pointed out that pay raises to administrators at DPS were at least as egregious and ill-timed as those at TYC, though the latter agency receives both more media scrutiny and less respect and deference than DPS (for a variety of reasons, some more justified than others). In yesterday's paper, the story by the Statesman's Brenda Bell began thusly:
When Gov. Rick Perry made Steve McCraw the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2009, only a dozen DPS employees earned $100,000 a year or more at the notoriously tight-fisted agency.

Now there are 73, reflecting an enormous growth in DPS management positions and pay since McCraw, an ex-FBI agent who formerly led the governor’s Homeland Security office, took charge of the department in August 2009.

Meanwhile, the more than 3,500 officers at the largest statewide law enforcement agency — most of them uniformed Highway Patrol troopers — have seen little increase in their base pay, which is significantly below that of most big-city police departments in Texas.
DPS went from 12 employees making more than $100K to 73 in just three years time, but when eleven TYC administrators got raises, Senator Whitmire called it "unbelievable, irresponsible, arrogant and outrageous," insisting:
"Those raises need to be rescinded, the money needs to be paid back, and we need to get the comptroller, the state auditor's office and the (attorney general) involved to find out how this could happen."

He also demanded that Scott Fisher, the chairman of the agency's board, resign.
By contrast, when DPS increased the number of administrators making more than $100K by a factor of six, from 12 to 73, here was Sen. Whtimre's far more reserved assessment:
“I’m aware that they’ve hired a large number of high-end employees. I’m not prepared to fault that,” said Whitmire. “I have confidence in Steve McCraw — I know he’s trying to professionalize the department.”

At the same time, Whitmire said, the stagnation in trooper pay “needs to be fixed. It’s a huge morale factor. They know what people (at the executive level) make.”
For my part, I would have considered it justified if Sen. Whitmire reacted the same way to DPS administrator raises as to those at TYC. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, etc., plus if education and women's health care are getting cut, why shouldn't DPS? The agency has become bloated with administrator salaries at a time when trooper pay has languished and the demands on troopers - particularly as they relate to new homeland security duties - are greater than ever. (If anybody deserves higher salaries, it's the men and women on the front line, not the brass in Austin.)

Why the double standard? Where is the outrage? In this supposedly Tea-Party dominated legislature, where are the small-government conservatives when you need them?


  1. Seems as though there's plenty of money for boats, planes, surveillance doo-dads, and yes, executive salaries. Merry freakin' Christmas from the Texas State Troopers Association!

  2. Any idea as to the reason(s) the Texas legislature left TJJD with conflicting direction as to the pursuit of having their agency involved in the accreditation processes with the American Correctional Association; while leaving TDCJ an open door to pursue ACA accreditation?

    1. ACA accreditation is a waste of money. TJJD should seek JCAHO accrediting for their health services and have a good interal audit. Most health care professionals are familiar with the JCAHO standard and not the ACA. ACA is geared up for privatization of state facilities, by giving private operators a false standard. TJJD would be smart to stay away from ACA. ACA lacks standards for the safe operation of the facility. True standards in corrections come from the development and retention of staff, something TDCJ and TJJD are lacking. I foresee TJJD and TDCJ undergoing Federal oversight in the next couple of years, unless staff development and retention change this next session. State criminal justice agencies are way underfunded. The TYC disaster could have been avoided with better staff retention and development. Incompetent staff usually lack the knowledge on how to tackle unethical issues. TDCJ is not any better with their contraband issues, but you get what you pay for and it would not surprise me if an inmate visits Senator Whitmire in person next time, instead of calling him on a cellphone from death row.

  3. When you install an experienced federal law enforcement person accustomed to established federal bureaucratic structuring and financing you receive a state agency that resembles a federal bureaucracy with overpaid underachieving management whose only goal is to enlarge and increase the budget of they're agency.

  4. I don't know if its still true, but I remember years ago reading somewhere that the higher ups at DPS were driving expensive, fully decked out, police vehicles even though they had no patrol duties and did nothing but drive these vehicles back and forth to work every day. Anyone know if this is still going on?

  5. I can't say that those vehicles were "fully decked out," as they were not black-and-whites, but your recollection is accurate. The practice has been discontinued.

  6. said Whitmire. “I have confidence in Steve McCraw — I know he’s trying to professionalize the department.”

    Boy aint that the truth, now DPS has professional snipers in the helicopters.

  7. And professional roadside body cavity search specialists.

  8. The DPS didn't make Whitmire look bad like TYC did by not being able to fix the agency with Whitmire's mandates.

  9. What about the professional technique of shooting a mounted fleeing motorcycle rider in the leg to make him stop fleeing and surrender?

  10. Excluding the DPS Director’s salary, here is a breakdown of the top 80 DPS Executive Positions above the rank of Major (Salary range $92,394 to $157,500). 26 of the top 80 positions (only 32.5%) are certified as law enforcement officers by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. 54 of the top 80 positions (67.5%) are civilian positions. 36 of the top 80 positions (only 45%) have more than 10 years seniority with DPS. 35 of the top 80 positions (43.75%) have been hired since 2009, and 34 of those 35 new hires (a staggering 97%) are civilians with no prior law enforcement experience. What exactly did Steve McCraw expect to accomplish in his quest to professionalize the state’s top Law Enforcement Agency with an administration now dominated by civilians with no professional law enforcement background, no professional law enforcement education, no professional law enforcement certifications, and no professional law enforcement experience. You will find not find another major law enforcement agency in the United States where the upper ranks are not almost exclusively filled by trained and certified law enforcement professionals with many years of law enforcement experience, a majority of which came up through the ranks of their agency. The outrageous situation at DPS has resulted because McCraw has blatantly awarded many of the top salaried positions at DPS to cronies with strong political ties to Rick Perry.

  11. I am glad this story is finally getting some attention outside of Grits and TSTA. This out of control growth at DPS in the executive positions has been going on since 2009. Meanwhile, the rank and file Highway Patrol Troopers are doing more with less as the ranks in some regions of the state are experiencing 30% plus vacancy rate. Most of the vacancies are due to low pay, the unwillingness of middle management to change to a more family oriented patrol schedule and decreases in State Benefits.

  12. Grits - The Deloitte study was mentioned in the Austin American Statesman article. I wish someone, maybe Brenda, Mike Ward, or you could do a story on the fact that Colonel McCraw's Homeland Security report to the Governor on Texas DPS preceded the Deloitte study by several months. Colonel McCraw's report came out in Jan 2008 and the Deloitte study came out around Oct 2008. The Deloitte study was just a carbon copy of McCraw's report and thus DPS 1) wasted $1,000,000.00 on the Deloitte study, 2) DPS now has lots more high paid brass almost entirely with NO LE experience, and 3) it was McCraw's plan all along.

    E-mail Don Dickson. He has those two reports.

  13. Grits, is it possible to identify by name the DPS Administrators who have been hired by Mr. McCraw since he came onboard? How many actually do have political affiliations with the Governor, and how many are former FBI agents?

    Senator Whitmire's milquetoast assessment of what is clearly a scandal is not surprising. Bitching out people at TYC does not carry the same potential for disaster as doing the same to people who operate a police agency the size of DPS.

  14. There has to be someplace to hide over expenditure and apparently the state government has used DPS to do this. 73 people making over 100k? I wonder how many in TDCJ, TYC, etc. lost their jobs or had salaries cut in order to pay for these aristocrats "justified" salaries. Sen Whitmire needs to live on my monthly salary and see what it feels like.

  15. Hopefully, DPS is not an inbred, thuggish, cynical, backscratching agency like I knew TYC to be. State agencies need to be watched so they don't become this way.

  16. 12/24/2012 01:12:00 PM

    "True standards in corrections come from the development and retention of staff, something TDCJ and TJJD are lacking" - One of the benefits from ACA accreditation is the fact that the processes require staff to learn their jobs (development), develop a sense of team work (retention). They are required to learn agency policy and to identify and tackle unethical issues.

  17. That's very specific.
    Why should they get raises?
    My bills are all inching up, from increased rent to cable TV (I can only receive a couple off channels using digital box). I can't get a private sector raise to cover any of this.
    Sued, I couldn't afford to file an appeal for what-to-them-would-be-a measly $250. Court fees are unrealistic, and 4everyone in the business will continue to spike their pay at any opportunity, just like a legislator. THEY can afford to lobby (which means today BRIBE) legislators; i cannot.
    Oh, craptcha, it's captcha--

  18. When you install an experienced federal law enforcement person accustomed to established federal bureaucratic structuring and financing you receive a state agency that resembles a federal bureaucracy with overpaid underachieving management whose only goal is to enlarge and increase the budget of they're agency.

    12/24/2012 12:40:00 PM

    YOU hit that effing nail on the head! The Feds know how to take care of themselves.

  19. So are you saying that the people who arrested Santa Claus deserve raises, or that the people who ordered the arrest of Santa Claus deserve them?

  20. You are right on spot 11:29........

    Obama Orders Pay Raise for Biden, Members of Congress, Federal Workers

  21. I love your blog, Cliff, and have been reading it for years. But just wanna say that I miss the days when you'd post frequently about your own life. Reading your advice columns/editorials are really interesting and useful, of course, in their own right. However, I do miss the aspect of blogging on here lately that comes from gaining insight into someone else's personal experiences, and not just their personal experiences as aggregated into a more general advice/editorial piece.
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