Washington, D.C. – Both of Wyoming’s U.S. Senators, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, joined Senator Tom Coburn and other Senate colleagues today in introducing S.1312, the Federal Employee Accountability Act, a bill that would reduce “official time” for government employees. Under the practice of “official time”, as authorized under 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, federal employees can be paid by taxpayers to complete duties that are not related to the mission of their agency, allowing in some cases for employees to perform union-related activities – some even full time – while on federal payroll. According to the Office of Personnel Management, in 2011, the government spent $155 million on 3.4 million hours used for “official time.”
“Federal workers should be paid for the work they do and not the political activity they want to do,” said Enzi. “Federal agencies have a mission, and that should be the priority of their workers. The American taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize union activity during government work hours.”
“Hard-working taxpayers are paying federal workers to do their official jobs – period,” said Barrasso. “This bill makes it clear that union-related activities should not be funded by the American people.”
The Federal Employee Accountability Act would repeal the provisions that entitle federal employees to official time while providing an exception for circumstances where both unions and agencies agree the use of official time is “reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest.” The bill would not affect federal employees’ ability to organize or have union representation in hearings. The bill is a companion bill to H.R. 107 sponsored by Representative Phil Gingrey, M.D., (R-GA).