Reps. Issa, Gingrey, and Sen. Coburn: GAO Study Finds Government’s Data Quality for Official Time is Unreliable

Published: Nov 18, 2014

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) today released a report they requested from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examining the use of “official time” for union business at government agencies. Official time is when a federal worker stops performing the job for which they were hired and instead engages in union activity, at taxpayer expense. The report, titled, “Labor Relations Activities: Actions Needed to Improve Tracking and Reporting of the Use and Cost of Official Time,” includes The Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) admission that official time reporting is not a priority, raises questions about OPM’s methodology for collecting data on official time, and shows the amount of official time could be as much as $5 million higher for the agencies studied. While OPM estimated that the federal government spent more than $156 million during fiscal year 2012 on official time, GAO estimated the cost of official time to be 15 percent higher than OPM estimates at 4 agencies.

“This study shows that the federal government is falling short in keeping track of so-called ‘official time’ and must make changes to prevent underreporting,” said Chairman Issa. “Taxpayers have the right to know the true cost of the union activity they are funding.”

Sen. Coburn said, “With veterans literally dying waiting to see a doctor, VA staff should be focused on fulfilling the promises made to America’s heroes rather than on performing union duties to secure greater benefits for themselves.”

“GAO’s report confirms that more work needs to be done to ensure transparency and accountability when reporting official time,” said Rep. Gingrey. “As long as taxpayers are forced to subsidize union activity, they should—at the minimum—have access to reliable data that shows where their hard-earned money is being spent. It is past time for the federal government to make American families—not Big Labor—its priority.”

You can read the entire report here.