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December 8, 2004



SUBJECT:  Official Time Usage in the Federal Government, Fiscal Year 2003

I am pleased to forward the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Official Time Usage in the Federal Government, Fiscal Year 2003. This memorandum also serves as the official call to agencies forFiscal Year (FY) 2004 data. I initiated an annual survey of agencies with regard to official time usage in November 2002. The results and findings of OPM's first annual official time survey were consolidated into our Summary Report: Official Time For Representational Activities Fiscal Year 2002, forwarded to agencies in November 2003. The FY 2003 report we are forwarding here consolidates and presents agency responses to our second annual official time survey. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your support and response in this effort.

Based on Federal agency responses to our FY 2003 official time survey, we find that overall Government-wide official time usage and its estimated cost remained relatively stable between FYs 2002 and 2003. Total official time hours decreased by 4 percent. Government-wide estimated costs increased by only 1.6 percent, an increase that is more than offset by the annual pay increase provided within the survey year. Beyond providing Government-wide information, the enclosed report presents agency-by-agency official time usage data.

To further support OPM's official time efforts and our commitment to accountability, we advised agencies last year that we would be conducting a special study to look at and review agency policies and practices in authorizing and tracking official time. A focused look at official policies and tracking methods should provide useful insights about the most effective approaches for managing resources and agency labor-management relations programs. The special study will be forwarded to you under separate cover.

We also advised agencies last year that for FY 2004 and beyond, agencies will be asked to report not only how many hours of official time are being used but what they are being used for. As previously described, the four official time categories agencies are to report for FY 2004 are:

    • Term Negotiations—official time used by union representatives to prepare for and negotiate a basic collective bargaining agreement or its successor.
    • Mid-Term Negotiations—official time used to bargain over issues raised during the life of a term agreement.
    • Dispute Resolution—official time used to process grievances up to and including arbitrations and to process appeals of bargaining unit employees to the various administrative agencies such as the MSPB, FLRA and EEOC and, as necessary, to the courts.
    • General Labor-Management Relations—official time used for: meetings between labor and management officials to discuss general conditions of employment, labor-management committee meetings, labor relations training for union representatives, and union participation in formal meetings and investigative interviews.

More detailed guidance on reporting FY 2004 data will follow. In the interim, any questions with regard to reporting FY 2004 official time data or on the specifics of our FY 2003 report can be directed to Paula Lucak, Senior Labor Relations Specialist, Center for Workforce Relations and Accountability Policy (CWRAP) at 202-606-2172 (

As OPM Director, I fully support the right of Federal employees to use official time to represent unions and bargaining unit employees. At the same time, the right to official time carries with it a responsibility on the part of both labor and management to see that the time is used appropriately and efficiently. I believe the annual official time surveys and OPM's reports on their findings, as well as related official time studies and activities we have initiated, work to support greater accountability to the taxpayer in this important area of labor-management relations.


CC: Chief Human Capital Officers

Labor Management Relations