The U.S. Secret Service director told a Senate panel Friday he is having a tough time hiring and keeping agents because his agency can't compete with salaries offered elsewhere.

"We're offering $18,000 to incoming agents," John R. Simpson told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government. "The Los Angeles Police Department is starting in the vicinity of $33,000."One agent who had been with the Secret Service for three years recently left to take a job with the Suffolk County police force in New York, where he'll earn $55,000 a year, Simpson said.

"You train them for other places," commented Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. "You're the farm team."