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House Republicans Target Taxpayer Funded Union Work

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Inside Sources discusses the "Official Time" bill with Trey Kovacs.

House Republicans passed a bill Wednesday aimed at providing further oversight into a practice that allows federal workers to do union work instead of their jobs.

Federal employees are allowed to do union tasks instead of their regularly assigned work because of a policy known as official time. The workers retain their title, salary, and benefits while doing the union tasks. Federal reports have found official time usage is often misreported because of oversight problems.

The House bill is aimed at fixing the oversight problem by establishing stricter reporting guidelines. The bill requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to submit an annual report to Congress on the use of official time by federal employees. The bill passed and is now moving onto the Senate for consideration.

The OPM found official time cost taxpayers $162 million in 2014. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has expressed concerns over how official time hours are calculated. It found in a 2014 report that current methods underestimate how much official time hours are actually being used.

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“This policy is well overdue,” CEI labor policy expert Trey Kovacs told InsideSources. “Since 1978, when they first codified official time, essentially a year after that Congress held hearings. They’ve had GAO and IG reports saying how agencies aren’t properly tracking and don’t know how much time federal employees are spending on union business.”

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The CEI has also urged congressional leaders to support a separate bill that would limit official time usage. The Official Time Reform Act prohibits federal employees from conducting political activity on union official time. It also calls for federal employees to lose service credit toward pension and bonuses if they perform union business for 80 percent or more of the hours in a workday.

“Hopefully this passes so they can better evaluate this practice to hopefully eliminate it in the future,” Kovacs said. “At least annually there will be a report that brings attention to this waste in government.”

Read the full article at Inside Sources.