June 17, 2002
MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
FROM: KAY COLES JAMES
SUBJECT: Official Time for Labor-Management Relations
This memorandum describes the Office of Personnel Management's expectations for agencies and unions when it comes to granting and using official time for labor-management relations. OPM is also instructing each department and agency to report by the end of each fiscal year on the number of hours of official time used by employees to perform representational activities. The first report is due to OPM by October 31, 2002, covering FY 2002.
President Bush has recognized the importance of strategic human capital management, placing it at the top of his agenda for improving the performance of Government. I believe that Federal agencies and their unions have a mutual interest in this critical effort to create a citizen-centered, results-oriented, market-based Government. To succeed, labor and management must use their time and resources in ways that meet the needs and expectations of agencies, employees, and the ultimate customers -- the American people.
Setting sensible standards for granting and using official time is an important part of this effort. Congress authorized employees official time for labor-management relations because lawmakers believed that the right to organize and bargain collectively safeguards the public interest, contributes to the effective conduct of public business, and encourages the amicable settlement of disputes between Federal employees and the Government. But the right of agencies to grant official time and the right of employees to use it on behalf of their unions creates a shared responsibility to the taxpayer. I believe that labor and management are equally accountable to the taxpayer and have a mutual duty to ensure that official time is authorized and used appropriately.
That is why I expect agencies and unions to work cooperatively on sensible, responsible arrangements for authorizing and using official time. In fact, most collective bargaining agreements already contain provisions that define official time for labor-management relations and set forth the kind of activities that are appropriate for official time usage. Establishing a clear set of reporting requirements for official time sends a strong signal that labor and management understand their joint obligation to use public funds wisely. Just as important, developing prudent official time arrangements that both parties support helps promote better relations between labor and management and reduces disputes over official time.
To help ensure accountability in this important area of labor-management relations, OPM is instructing each agency to report by the end of each fiscal year on the number of hours of official time used by employees to perform representational activities. The first report is due to OPM by October 31, 2002, covering FY 2002. We have prepared the attached guidance to assist agencies in compiling and reporting this information.
We have asked for as little official time data as possible because we are fast approaching the end of the fiscal year and we recognize that agencies may not be able to collect and report more than total hours of official time for FY 2002. To help us draw conclusions from the information reported this year, OPM will examine the official time data and any explanation of unusually high or low usage and correlate that with data we have already collected showing the number and size of bargaining units at each Federal agency. We will work closely with agencies and unions to establish a more comprehensive reporting framework for future years.
If you have any questions, please contact Jeffrey Sumberg, Director, Office of Labor and Employee Relations, at 202-606-2639. He may also be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.