Bill Would Eliminate Use of Official Time

Lawmakers are again introducing legislation that would end the use of official time in the federal workplace.

Legislation was recently introduced in Congress to end the use of official time.

“Official time” is the practice by which federal employees are paid for performing union-related work while on the job. This practice has been in place since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

However, according to Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), the bill’s sponsor in the House, the use of official time is fraught with waste, and said that it is “directly responsible for the federal government spending $157 million and 3.4 million man hours per year on activities that are often political in nature.”

Hice said in a statement, “After examining the practices of over sixty government agencies, my office has found an astounding amount of government waste. By eliminating the ‘official time’ practice, we will return over a billion dollars to hardworking American taxpayers, and shed this shady, wasteful practice that only benefits unions.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) co-sponsored the bill in the Senate. He added, “While on the taxpayers’ dime, federal employees should not be allowed to spend the entire day, every day, conducting union-related business and not doing the government job they were hired for.”

The Federal Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 1658) would ensure that no federal government employee could use official time to engage in collective bargaining, or participate in arbitration on behalf of a union against their employer.

This legislation has been introduced in the past but never advanced. In 2013, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) introduced the same legislation but it was never enacted.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.