Oversight Democrats Reveal Significant Flaws In Republican Staff Memo on “Official Time”

May 24, 2018
Press Release

Oversight Democrats Reveal Significant Flaws

In Republican Staff Memo on “Official Time”


Washington, DC (May 24, 2018)— Today, House Oversight Committee Democrats released a staff memo criticizing a Republican staff memo on “official time.” Late last night, Republican Committee staff circulated a memo entitled, “Federal Labor Union Use of Official Time in Fiscal Year 2017.”  Despite multiple requests, Democratic staff were not allowed to be involved in the drafting or review of this memo.  Since the Republican staff memo is not being issued as an official report of the Committee, it has not been reviewed, vetted, or voted on by all Members pursuant to Committee rules.

After a preliminary review of the Republican memo, it is evident that key findings and figures in the Republican staff memo are fundamentally flawed. Below are the most obvious flaws in the Republican staff memo:

1.Key Republican finding completely invented. The key finding of the Republican staff memo states: The official time data for Fiscal Year 2017 shows the total compensation of all federal employees using any official time was $1 billion.  This finding is a blatant, false, and gross overestimate of the federal labor use of official time, as a footnote in the Republican staff memo concedes.  The footnote states: This does not mean the total compensation cost to the federal government was $1 billion for official time.  This figure includes all employees using any official time.  (emphasis added).  Republicans attributed an employee’s entire salary and benefits in order to invent a completely fictitious total of $1 billion, despite the fact that many employees spend only a fraction of their work time on official time. 

2.Data reveals most rarely use of official time: The data cited in the Republican staff memo confirms that official time is used sparingly.  The memo states:  12,508 employees used official time in some capacity.  Of those, 981 spent between half and all of their workday on official time.  In other words, 92% of workers who use official time (11,527) do so less than half their working hours.  Most users of official time spend the majority of their work time in the professions they were hired to perform.

3.Documents rebut Republican claim that bonuses are awarded for official time work: The Republican staff memo claims: “Union officials on 100 percent official time may qualify for honorary, informal, and non-performance-based awards. … There were 102 employees on 50 percent or more official time who received an award in fiscal year 2017.” This claim suggests that union representatives earned bonuses as a result of their use of official time, which is prohibited by law and agency policy.  The Republican staff memo conspicuously omits information obtained by the Committee from many agencies clearly explaining that bonuses awarded to employees who use official time at any point are awarded only as a result of their non-official time work.

4.Most official time used to attend meetings requested by management: The Republican staff memo states that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report on official time use for fiscal year 2016 identifies “four main activities employees perform on behalf of the union.”  The memo then highlights that the vast majority of official time (75%) is used for “General Labor-Management Relations,” which includes “meetings between labor and management officials to discuss general conditions of employment and union participation in formal meetings and investigative interviews.”  However, the Republican staff memo disregards the fact that three-quarters of official time is spent in meetings and procedures requested by agency management. 

5.Defect in initial data request makes it impossible to determine number of employees on 100% of official time: On January 9, 2018, Chairman Trey Gowdy sent a letter to the 24 federal agencies requesting the following information:  “Whether the employee served in an official time capacity full-time, or a less than half-time.”  However, the letter failed to define the meaning of “full time.”  As a result, the Republican staff memo was forced to concede that “full time” does not mean 100%.  In other words, employees who spend 51% of their time performing representational duties and 49% performing agency-related duties would be inaccurately counted as “full-time” users of official time. 

“This Democratic staff memorandum identifies only some of the most obvious flaws in the Republican staff report,” the memo states. “Democratic staff again extended an invitation to the Republican staff to work together to produce an accurate report worthy of the Committee.”

The full memo can be found here

115th Congress