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Lankford Raises Questions on Scrubbed Webpage that Details Taxpayer-Funded Union Activities

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter to the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) over the decision to scrub a webpage that has long documented “official time,” the amount of taxpayer-funded time spent by the federal workforce on labor union activities. 

The Senators argue that this webpage is critical for congressional oversight and request information on the reason for its removal. 

“We write to express concern over the decision by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to remove a page from its website that has documented, for over a decade, the amount of ‘official time’ taken by employees of federal agencies. As you know, ‘official time’ is defined as time used by federal employees to engage in labor union related activities instead of their assigned duties during regular working hours. In its latest official time report, issued in 2019, the OPM approximated that federal employees spent at least 2.6 million hours on labor union activities, which equate to roughly $135 million in federal taxpayer dollars,” the Senators wrote.  

“This webpage, which has been made available by various administrations since 2013, is critical for congressional oversight over the federal civil service workforce. Further, it is also concerning that under this Administration, OPM appears to have stopped creating official time reports which have been published since 1998. The American people deserve to know how much ‘official time’ is being conducted and funded by their hard-earned taxpayer dollars,” the Senators continued.

Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and John Barrasso (R-WY) also signed onto the letter. 

View the full text of the letter here or below. 

Dear Director Ahuja,

We write to express concern over the decision by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to remove a page from its website that has documented, for over a decade, the amount of “official time” taken by employees of federal agencies. As you know, “official time” is defined as time used by federal employees to engage in labor union related activities instead of their assigned duties during regular working hours. In its latest official time report, issued in 2019, the OPM approximated that federal employees spent at least 2.6 million hours on labor union activities, which equate to roughly $135 million in federal taxpayer dollars.

This webpage, which has been made available by various administrations since 2013, is critical for congressional oversight over the federal civil service workforce. Further, it is also concerning that under this Administration, OPM appears to have stopped creating official time reports which have been published since 1998. The American people deserve to know how much “official time” is being conducted and funded by their hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

Accordingly, we ask that you respond to the following questions before January 14, 2024:

  1. Why was the webpage documenting official time reports removed from your website?
  1. When will the OPM issue its next official time report?
  1. What is the most up-to-date estimate for yearly “official time” conducted by federal employees?
  1. When will OPM make public the latest estimates of “official time” conducted by federal

Sincerely,


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