President Donald Trump today signed three Executive Orders aimed at reforming the civil service and supporting American taxpayers.
The first Executive Order encourages agencies to negotiate contracts with labor organizations in less than a year. Shortening this bargaining time will lead to better union contracts and will save U.S. taxpayers money. The long bargaining times are costly because taxpayers pay the salaries of union negotiators. In fact, in 2016 alone, the salaries of union negotiators cost taxpayers $16 million. In addition, the Executive Order makes federal collective bargaining more transparent by requiring the publication of union contracts in a public online database. Finally, this Executive Order creates a Labor Relations Working Group.
The second Executive Order directly addresses official time, the policy that federal government workers spend some or all of their time working for the union while being paid by U.S. taxpayers. Representative Mark Meadows (Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; R-NC) just held a hearing yesterday on official time and released a memo noting that the Office of Personnel Management estimated that just the payroll costs alone for employees on official time in 2016 were $177.2 million. These costs, however, are likely higher.
This Executive Order requires agencies to renegotiate contracts with unions to cut official time by an average of two-thirds. In addition, federal employees will only be allowed to spend a maximum of 25% of their time on union work. This will allow the agencies to get more work done. The Social Security Administration, for example, estimates it could complete 17,000 more disability determinations annually if official time was eliminated. In addition, employees who use Federal office space for non-agency business will have to pay rent, and their travel expenses for non-agency business will no longer be reimbursed. These reforms will also save U.S. taxpayers at least $100 million a year.
The final Executive Order strengthens the merit system of federal employees by streamlining the process to fire poor employees. The current process is lengthy and hurts federal agencies. Tenured federal employees, for example, are 44 times less likely to be removed from their positions than private sector workers. In some cases, employees have stolen federal property and not been fired. In addition, it takes 6 months to one year to fire these employees and an additional 8 months if there is an appeal. This Order also requires agencies to report information on disciplinary actions and management of poor performers to the Office of Personnel Management for publication so that poor performers will not be rehired by other agencies.
Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Worker Freedom applaud President Trump on these important reforms that will strengthen the federal workforce and save taxpayers money.