Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has offered two amendments on official time (the time that Union representatives use to perform their representational duties) to the annual defense policy-setting bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While much of this bill addresses Department of Defense-specific issues, this measure is used at times to carry government-wide federal personnel provisions. The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debate on this overall measure later today.
One of the Johnson amendments would require an annual report from the Office of Personnel Management on agencies’ use of official time—it mirrors H.R. 1293, a bill introduced by Representative Dennis Ross (FL-15) that has passed the House and which has been reported out favorably by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The second amendment seeks to substantially limit official time—primarily by not providing retirement credit to individuals who spend more than 80% of their regular work hours on official time, and by prohibiting recruitment, retention, and relocation awards for these individuals. This amendment is based upon H.R.1364, Representative Jody Hice’s (GA-10) bill that has been favorably reported out of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but has not advanced any further.
It is important to note that the vast majority of amendments filed to the NDAA are not in fact considered, given the Senate’s floor process.
NTEU strongly opposes any attempts to limit or restrict official time, and NTEU National President Tony Reardon has sent a letter to all Senators. I want to assure you that NTEU’s main priority is blocking language that penalizes individual employees—including their retirement benefits and other compensation—for having agreed to serve as Union representatives on allowable official time.
While it is unclear at this time whether these amendments would be slated for floor consideration, NTEU has already reached out and is working with allies in the Senate, including Armed Services Committee members, to block these amendments.
I will keep you updated.