As budget talks heat up, union officials are pleading their case that federal agencies need more money.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employee Union, which represents Treasury Department employees including the IRS, released a statement comparing the IRS budget to a “starvation diet.” Kelley also called on Congress to pass President Obama’s budget and increase agency funding levels because “[i]f Congress does not adequately fund our agencies, we will fail in our efforts to deliver on our mission. Period.”
Well, there is an easy way that Kelley, the IRS, and nearly every federal agency could free up some money and increase its manpower to help them fulfill their agency missions–stop providing paid leave to federal employees who engage in union activity instead of their public duty.
In 2013, the latest numbers available, NTEU members working for the IRS spent 521,725 hours on official time, which is the practice of releasing federal employees from their government job to conduct union business on the taxpayers’ dime. The over 500,000 hours of official time, at the IRS, cost was $23.5 million an increase from $16 million in 2012.
Unfortunately, the IRS is not alone, the wasteful practice of official time, or union subsidy, plagues nearly every federal agency.
So when union officials complain that agencies do not have enough money or sufficient personnel to do the job, they could easily recall employees on official time to help deliver public services.
While government unions will not volunteer to give away this perk, in the last Congress, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the Federal Employees Accountability Act, which would eliminate the practice of official time. And now is as good of time as any to reintroduce the bill.