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February 29, 2016

Dear Representative:
As National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, representing over
150,000 federal employees in 31 different agencies, I am writing with regard to two measures
currently under consideration by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
H.R. 4361, introduced by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) amends title 44 USC by granting
agency heads sole and exclusive authority in the information technology (IT) arena. NTEU
believes that the language in the Federal Information Systems Safeguard Act is overly broad and
could eliminate collective bargaining on any IT issues. As individuals who have recently
suffered a devastating loss of personal information in the wake of the OPM cyber-attacks, NTEU
members are also demanding a safe and secure federal IT environment. However, federal
employees should not be facing the possibility of being unable to be contacted in the event their
childrens school closes or their childcare provider suddenly needs to change their planned
arrangements for the day. In our view, H.R. 4361 is wholly unnecessary as current Title 44
provisions prescribe detailed agency head responsibility to ensure that all personnel are held
accountable for complying with the agency-wide information security program (See 44 USC
3554 (a) (7)).
H.R. 4392, introduced by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) would amend title 5 United States
Code (USC) to require an annual report from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on
agencies use of official time. The language creates new burdens on federal agencies by
mandating various reporting requirements including that the report include a detailed description
of all of the various activities, purposes, and outcomes granted for official time hours, the total
compensation (salary plus benefits) for employees on official time which is not data already
computed by agencies, and a description and specific size of the space made available for official
time activities inside agencies. NTEU is concerned that these reporting requirements are just the
first step in eliminating official time.
Under the provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (5 USC 7131), federal
employees represented by a labor organization can be granted official time, or the ability to
perform during work hours, certain activities that are in the joint interest of both the union and
the agency. Examples of activities that can be performed on official time include negotiating
collective bargaining agreements, participating in formal meetings called by management,
conducting and receiving training and participating in labor-management committees.
Importantly, current law specifically prohibits the use of official time for conducting internal
union matters, organizing workers, soliciting members or conducting union elections, or for any

partisan political activities (see 5 USC 7131(b) and 7324). Additionally, unlike in the private
sector, federal labor unions must represent the interests of all employees in the bargaining unit,
without regard to labor organization membership (5 USC 7114) since it is completely voluntary
on the employees part whether or not to join the union, and official time allows for this model to
succeed. And, further the amount of money saved by having a workable mechanism in place to
resolve disputes in a non-adversarial and more flexible way (as opposed to more time consuming
and costly lawsuits filed against agencies) in fact reduces the costs of agencies doing business.
Taken together, these measures could threaten decades of successful federal labor
management efforts as well as damage the ability of labor and agency management to work
together to provide the best service to the American public.


Anthony M. Reardon
National President