By today’s standards, the amount of misused money is not large, it’s the practice that offends the sensibilities of any taxpayer aware of it. The practice is: paying federal employees not to work. The federal government paid employees $137 million for not doing their jobs. This was for the year 2010. For the previous year bureaucrats were paid only $129 million for not working. “How could his be?” you well may ask. This is happening while the federal government is doubled over with the load of a $1.3 billion deficit on its back.
This startling information was revealed by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of RealClearMarkets. Her revelation is being picked up by other publications as well.
The government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported that these non-working workers were, instead, busy acting as representatives of government unions. Some bureaucrats are hindered by a mentality which dictates that one has to put one’s shoulder to the wheel where the effort is most vital to one’s interests.
The time spent by these federal employees not working for us taxpayers is called by the grandiose label “official time.” According to the account by Furchtgott-Roth, the OPM explained that “official time is time spent by federal employees performing representational work for a bargaining unit in lieu of their regularly assigned work.”
So, when a federal worker is yawning and stretching in boredom and apparently doesn’t have anything important to do, the union-appreciative bureaucrat can be elected or appointed as a “union representative.” This grants the person the special privilege of still collecting the pay for what they were hired to do, but spending their time giving their all for a union—and there are plenty of unions.
All 59 executive departments and agencies, as well as the Government Printing Office and the Capitol Police, have employees representing their interests. The OPM report for 2009 said nearly 5 million “official time” periods were listed in that year. Each employee used about 4 percent of his or her time in this union work (instead of the job supposedly being done for the taxpayers).
“Labor organizations and collective bargaining are in the public interest,” said the OPM report. President Obama reinforced that concept with an Executive Order (No. 13522), I found. In that order, Obama enunciated his feelings about government unions with the words that they “will improve the productivity and effectiveness of the federal government.” How that is possible may remain one of the many mysteries of the Obama Administration.
These “union representatives” still collect not only their regular salary but also various generous fringe benefits, including, of course, medical benefits, which many private-sector workers “no longer receive,” as Furchtgott-Roth points out.