WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA) recently introduced H.R. 1364, the Official Time Reform Act, which would prohibit federal employees from grassroots lobbying while on “official time,” a practice by which federal employees are legally permitted to conduct union-related activities – during the work day – instead of performing the jobs they were hired to do. The bill would also prohibit employees who spend more than 80% of their work on official time from counting that time as creditable service under the Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employee Retirements System. During the mark-up, the Committee adopted an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) which would prohibit federal employees operating on 80% or more official time from receiving bonuses. Congressman Hice released the following statement after the legislation passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:
“Despite the obligation of federal employees to the taxpayer to complete the job they were hired to perform, the government has thousands of employees who spend the majority of their regular working hours on union activity and lobbying efforts. In Fiscal Year 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs had over 300 employees – nurses, therapists, pharmacists, a physician, and even a prosthetic limb specialist – who were hired to serve our brave warriors but instead operated exclusively on official time. Rather than helping our heroes, these individuals spend all their time engaging in union activities such as collective bargaining, filing complaints or grievances, and even grassroots lobbying. This is unacceptable and a grave misuse of valuable resources.
“Through my committee work, I’ve questioned many agency heads about their management of official time, and each time, the wasteful pattern emerges and is left unchecked. Simply put, paying federal employees to do union work interferes with providing the services that taxpayers deserve. In order to combat this waste of taxpayer money, the Official Time Reform Act is a much-needed action to overhauling this egregious practice as we seek greater accountability and transparency within our federal government.
“Federal employees are free to engage in union activities on their own time, and they are free to use union resources and dues to fund those activities; however, taxpayer dollars should be used for public, not private, needs. I applaud the work that went into this legislation and look forward to its consideration on the House Floor.”