The Office of Personnel Management has asked the Civil Service Recreation Association--which provides everything from discounts to trips for its 1,500 OPM members--to justify its existence.
OPM General Counsel Joseph Morris recently wrote the head of the association, asking several questions, such as what arrangement it has for the store and office it operates in OPM's headquarters at 1900 E St. NW, how it was chartered and what its bylaws say about activities outside the traditional recreation association format.
Some OPM staffers contend the move is intended to harass the association for the rude reception--boos and catcalls--that Director Donald J. Devine got last year when he went to the CSRA Christmas party.
OPM--formerly the Civil Service Commission--had just gone through a series of layoffs, shakeups and demotions that made some workers less than grateful that the boss came to their party.
OPM officials say there is no harassment intended. They say they are curious whether the group--funded by annual membership fees--is violating its own rules or any agreement with the government by engaging in what might be considered political activity.
"Actually it started with an item in your Dec. 3 column," an OPM official said. The last paragraph of that day's column said the association "has given $1,000 to local charities to help feed poor people during the holiday season. Half of its money was allocated to St. Aloysius Church to buy food for the needy, and half was given to the Community for Creative Non-Violence . . . ."
The CCNV and its leader, Mitch Snyder, have been involved in programs to feed poor people. They also have confronted police and authorities in protests contending that government and church groups were not doing enough to help the poor.
CCNV has twice set up tent encampments, dubbed "Reaganvilles," across from the White House in Lafayette Park.
An OPM official, who said he was a member of the recreation association, said, "a recreation association is supposed to provide services to members . . . not make political statements." He said OPM wants to see what the charter or bylaws of the organization say "about an outfit that has space in a government building."