Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is the author of the pension reforms.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is the author of the pension reforms. Andrew Harnik/AP file photo

Pension Reforms, Punishments for Porn Watchers Advance

Panel goes after official time, seeks to protect federal interns from harassment.

A House committee approved several bills aimed at reforming the federal workforce, including a pension reform for union officials who receive government paychecks.

Two of the measures would bring changes to the practice of official time, with one earning fierce opposition from Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The more controversial Official Time Reform Act would prevent employees from counting days worked at least 80 percent on union representational duties toward their retirement pensions. It would also prevent employees from engaging in lobbying while on official time.

The second measure, demanding the Office of Personnel Management issue more regular reports on official time usage, received less pushback.

The pension reform amounted to an attack on official time in general, Democrats on the committee said, which they called essential to dispute resolution and whistleblower protection. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., who authored the bill, said the measure would not take away anyone’s right to work on official time.

“It will allow anyone working on official time to do so as much as they want to,” Hice said. “It just takes away the financial incentive.”

The American Federation of Government Employees called the bill “union busting” that would “silence the voice of workers.”

“Federal managers and their employees are fully competent to negotiate the terms of official time, when it is needed, how much is needed, and where it should be used to address unique agency and workplace issues,” AFGE wrote in a letter to the oversight committee.

In a similar letter, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said it was more efficient for one employee to work 100 percent on official time than for two to split their time between union and official agency business.

“For civil servants to be able to do their jobs effectively and to report wrongdoing without fear of reprisal,” IFPTE wote, “they must have credible and effective representation, independent of management, that can interact at all levels of government to provide decision-makers with a more balanced and complete picture to allow for better and more informed overall governance.”

Also in the markup, the committee approved the Eliminating Pornography From Agencies Act. The panel also signed off on the bill from Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., in the last Congress, though it never received a vote on the House floor. The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to issue governmentwide guidance prohibiting access to pornographic websites on federal computers. Currently, Meadows said, agencies maintain a patchwork of disparate rules on the subject.

The issue came to the forefront in 2014, when an Environmental Protection Agency inspector general report found an employee spent between two and six hours per day viewing pornography while at work. The employee had downloaded and viewed more than 7,000 pornographic files during duty hours.

Meadows cautioned he was not trying to paint with a broad brush, saying the bill would “raise up the level of the federal workforce.”

“This in no way is meant to disparage the federal workforce,” he said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, called federal porn watchers the “seediest of the bad apples” who “need serious help.”

The committee also approved the Federal Intern Protection Act to provide interns all the discrimination protections afforded to regular federal employees. The panel had passed the measure in the previous Congress. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who introduced the bill, said federal interns “sacrifice tremendously,” and it was unfair the federal workers who mentor them are protected while the interns themselves are not.

Another source of significant debate and contention stemmed from a non-binding resolution from Chaffetz, the committee chairman, to move federal offices out of the Washington, D.C., area. The measure would encourage agencies to distribute throughout the country “the economic and employment benefits associated” with federal jobs “when possible and expedient.” The panel approved the resolution over significant pushback from Democrats, especially those representing the capital region. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.