GOP demands government report on federal worker union activities

Two House Republicans are demanding that the Obama administration release a public report on how much work time federal employees are spending on union activities.

On Monday, Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) wrote to Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta to demand that OPM release this information for fiscal year 2012 by mid-April.

ADVERTISEMENT
OPM had been releasing annual reports on the amount of time spent by federal workers on union activity. OPM's last report for fiscal year 2011 said 3.4 million hours were spent, at a cost of about $155 million.

But when Archuleta was being considered for her post last year, she said she could not commit to continuing these reports. The letter from Gingrey and Ross said Archuleta has not said whether she would release these report since being confirmed in November.

"Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is being spent," they wrote. "Failure to provide an official time report could contribute to a further erosion of trust in the federal government, as it seems to suggest that the government is unwilling to account for how its employees spend their workday."

"We believe that it is absolutely necessary to ensure that government employees spend their time serving the interests of their employers, namely, the American taxpayer," they added. "For this reason, we feel that it is imperative for Congress and the American public to have access to timely and accurate official time reports."

The letter noted that in 2002, the Bush administration's OPM Director issued a memo requiring an annual report on time spent on union activities, formally known as "official time." But under the Obama administration, the fiscal year 2009 report was released with a note saying there is no legal requirement to publish the information.

Ross and Gingrey proposed legislation last year that would require OPM to submit an annual report to Congress on how much "official time" is used by federal workers. That bill, H.R. 568, was considered by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, but has not been considered on the House floor.

"Until this legislation becomes law, however, the least the administration can do to provide adequate transparency and accountability is disclose every penny of our taxpayer's money going to pay union salaries," Gingrey said.

The Obama administration could have released its report on official time more than a year ago, and is already several months late for issuing a report for fiscal year 2013.