Union Time on the People’s Dime: A Closer Look at Official Time

Subcommittee on Government Operations
Subcommittee on Government Operations
Hearing Date: May 24, 2018 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn HOB

PURPOSE:
  • To identify official time usage at agencies across the federal government and review problems associated with official time data reporting.
  • To consider official time reforms.
BACKGROUND:
  • Under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, federal labor union employees are authorized to participate in union activities while receiving normal salary and benefits from the federal government.
  • On January 9, 2018, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs sent a letter to 24 agencies requesting information on the use of federal labor union official time in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The amount of official time available at each agency and the number of employees on official time varies from agency to agency.
  • The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently estimated official time cost American taxpayers $174.8 million in fiscal year 2016. OPM’s report does not include costs associated with taxpayer-funded facilities, equipment, and travel expenses agencies cover for labor organizations as a result of collective bargaining, so the true cost of official time could be much higher.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Mr. Trey Kovacs Policy Analyst Competitive Enterprise Institute Document
Mr. Bob Gilson Senior Labor and Employee Relations Consultant and Author Document
Mr. Darrell M. West Vice President and Director of Governance Studies Brookings Institution Document