With a backlog of almost 1 million unprocessed benefit claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is shocking that over 250 of the Department’s employees are on “official time,” doing no work for veterans.
It sounds unbelievable to most of us who have to show up at work to do a job, but “official time” is time that federal workers spend working for their unions, and not working for taxpayers. A report published in February by the Office of Personnel Management states, “Official time, broadly defined, is paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees.”
Republican senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Rob Portman of Ohio, in June 5 letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, said, “Documents show that your department recently employed at least 85 VA nurses, some with six-figure salaries, who were in 100 percent official time status. At the same time, the department is recruiting more people to fill open nursing positions.”
In 2011, according to OPM, the federal government paid over $156 million for some of its employees to work as representatives for government unions, up from $139 million in 2010 and $129 million in 2009.