An analysis by a pro-free-market think tank estimates that at least 1,000 federal workers paid with taxpayer dollars exclusively worked for labor organizations rather than performing duties at their government jobs.
Taxpayers spent $162.5 million on federal employees performing union activities in 2014, according to the Office of Personnel Management's most recent data. The Competitive Enterprise Institute used official budget documents and Freedom of Information Act requests to validate how many federal employees worked under such conditions.
"It is likely that thousands of federal employees spend 100 percent of their time performing union activity instead of the public service they were hired to do," the CEI report published Tuesday says (emphasis in the original).
Federal officials have been allowed to perform union work while on the clock since Congress passed the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. The provision was devised to help workers file workplace grievances and negotiate with their employers, but CEI labor expert Trey Kovacs said the exact nature of the work is unclear thanks to lax accountability measures.
"A general lack of transparency surrounding the practice makes it impossible to know what specific activities are performed on official time or what its costs are," the think tank said. "Despite numerous investigations, federal agencies have done very little to safeguard public funds by properly tracking and reporting on the cost of official time and the number of hours used."
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