The Republican leaders of the House and Senate committees overseeing federal workplace issues are pressing agencies to respond to their earlier inquiries about the assignment of employees to leave without pay so that they can participate in political activities.
The original letters sought to determine how common the practice is among federal agencies, after reports by the Office of Special Counsel and the Postal Service IG found that the Hatch Act had been violated when top postal management agreed to a union’s request to allow some employees to take extended time off for that purpose during last year’s campaigns–in the process, overriding local managers’ concerns about the impact on the workflow. No disciplinary actions were recommended, although USPS tightened its policies on what has been a long-standing practice of granting such leave at a union’s request.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in late August asked agencies to report on their practices by September 11.
In similar letters sent to Justice, Commerce, DHS, Transportation, the chairmen of the two panels said that “we are long past this deadline and your agency has not yet complied with our request . . . If you fail to cooperate or provide a time commitment by which you will comply with our request, it may be necessary to consider the use of compulsory process.”