Official Time: Good Value for the Taxpayer?
Full Testimony Available as a PDF
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Official time does not represent good value for taxpayers and does not serve the public interest.
Title V of the U.S. Code allows federal government employees to perform union duties unrelated to their jobs while still being paid their official government salary, which is ultimately funded by the taxpayer. This process is called official time. There is no legislative or regulatory requirement for the government to report to taxpayers how much of this time is utilized by government unions.
Section 7131, 5 USC 71 of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 defines and authorizes official time for unions representing federal employees. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM,) “Official time, broadly defined, is paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees.”
In fiscal year 2009, federal employees logged 2,991,378 hours for union work while still receiving a paycheck from the government. This cost taxpayers $129,100,798 for work of no appreciable benefit to them. Those figures represent time and money that could have been spent on the government’s administrative duties.
Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize union activity. Congress should repeal the section of Title V that authorizes official time.
However, as long as official time is allowed, taxpayers should have easy access to detailed information on its usage and cost. Congress should require OPM to report official time usage on an annual basis and publish the findings online.