President Trump’s large family and many trips are straining the agency’s resources, according to a report
Protecting the POTUS costs a pretty penny.
President Trump’s frequent travel and 18 family members has put a strain on the Secret Service’s funds for the remainder of the calendar year, USA Today reported Monday. “The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Secret Service Director Randolph (Tex) Alles told the paper. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”’
Alles later clarified in a statement that the Secret Service has the funding necessary “to meet all current mission requirements” for the rest of the fiscal year — that is, through Sept. 30 — before Congress will have to step in and remedy the federally mandated salary and overtime cap.
“The Secret Service estimates that roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017. Our agency experienced a similar situation in calendar year 2016 that resulted in legislation that allowed Secret Service employees to exceed statutory caps on pay,” Alles said. “To remedy this ongoing and serious problem, the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution.”
He added that the budgeting issue couldn’t be blamed on the Trump administration’s protection needs alone, stating it’d been “an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo.”
As the Secret Service sorts through its fiscal nightmare, we asked experts for the best ways to handle running over budget in a regular work environment. Here’s what they said:
- Before you wind up barreling over budget, perform a risk assessment, said Moira Alexander, the Bellingham, Wash.-based founder of the Lead-Her-Ship Group. Determine what are the factors that might cause a project to go over budget. “That’s your first step before you get to actual overruns, being able to identify what are your risk points,” she told Moneyish. “If you’ve already gone over budget, the risk assessment didn’t sufficiently address it.”
- Be able to justify why you went over budget. “There has to be an approval for that scope change,” Alexander said. “The executive team would have to come out and say, ‘We’re going to approve these additional funds; however, before we approve them we want documentation that tells us where that project budget went over, (the root cause for) why it went over, why the additional funds, (and) what’s at risk if we don’t approve these additional funds.’” After the executive team approves the additional funds, they may also ask how you’re going to avoid such predicaments going forward.
- Know what kind of boss you’re dealing with. Some managers will approach a budget with a punitive rigidity and unwillingness to adapt, said Jim Lemoine, an assistant professor of organization and human resources at the University at Buffalo School of Management. “Other managers, they look at the rules and policies and budgets of the company not necessarily as the only way that we can do business,” he told Moneyish — rather, they’ll understand technology, customers, changes in the market and other factors “may demand changes in how we operate” if the budget overrun was legitimately justified. A flexible boss lends him or herself to building new knowledge, overcoming old assumptions and positioning the organization for future success, Lemoine said.
- Be versatile. Say you’re renovating a bathroom and run into the unexpected cost of mold behind the shower stall, said career coach Wendi Weiner. “Now you’re forced to kind of sit down and collaborate and make adjustments,” she told Moneyish. “Some people may say you have to tear down the walls and do all this work, but maybe there’s an alternative solution. That’s where the flexibility has to come in.”
- Communicate. “You need to always have project updates — be in constant communication from the person doing the work to the person managing to the client,” Weiner said. “As long as there’s open channels of communication, the reaction is not going to be so shocking if the project goes off budget.”
- Make sure there’s a point person and a system in place to prevent future overruns. “If somebody’s not accountable for those costs, even if you monitor and control those costs, it’s really for naught,” Alexander said. “It is imperative that you can identify 100% of the costs relate to strictly the project.” For example, she said, you don’t want to learn that 5% of funding for a client wound up going toward an unrelated expense. “It’s about mitigating risk going forward and not repeating the risks of the past,” Alexander added.
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