Federal Labor Relations:
Official Time Used for Union Activities
T-GGD-96-191, Sep 11, 1996
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the charging of official time for federal workers' union activities. GAO noted that: (1) 59 percent of federal employees are represented by unions at four agencies; (2) the use of official time for union activities is a widely-established practice in the federal government, but it is limited to noninternal union business; (3) union stewards and employees involved in grievance proceedings and union representatives attending certain management and negotiation meetings may charge official time for these union activities; (4) the total amount and cost of official time used for union activities and the number of employees using such time is not known because agencies do not collect such data; (5) for fiscal year 1995, the Postal Service reported 1.7 million hours of official time charges, the Social Security Administration reported 404,000 hours, and the Internal Revenue Service reported 527,000 hours, but the reported data were not uniform or complete; (6) two agencies' estimated official time costs totalled $11 million and about $29 million, respectively; (7) the Department of Veterans Affairs does not have a reporting system that collects official time data; and (8) federal agencies are not required to generate or report comprehensive data on their support of union activities.