Many federal workers who moonlight as writers or speakers hope Congress or the courts will eliminate the portion of the Ethics Reform Act that bans them from accepting honoraria for nonfederal activities.
The Supreme Court today may rule on a request by the National Treasury Employees Union. That union has asked that employees be allowed to continue writing and talking for pay pending a decision by the Circuit Court of Appeals.
But some employees -- judging from today's Monday morning quarterback letters -- think the crackdown should be applied to so-called daylighters: people who use their government offices for outside business. Here is what some have written:A few notes about the decision not to allow federal employees to moonlight.
At first glance, the idea seems preposterous. But take another look, as I've done for many years.
In my agency so many Grade 14 and 15 types teach at the local college there is never any audiovisual equipment or supplies for our training. Movie projectors, slide and overhead projectors, etc., are either at the college or in the trunk of the moonlighting teachers' cars.
. . . Photocopying machines are in almost constant use cranking out course outlines, notes, exams and the like. The phones are busy with these guys talking to students, etc. If they are that interested in teaching, how about quitting their federal jobs and giving a chance to someone willing to give the taxpayers a break?
Too bad the government doesn't crack down. I hope the Director of the Office of Personnel Management reads this and gets out a stiff memo on these . . . abuses of public trust." Unhappy in Baltimore
Your column last year gave us the first warning of the 1991 honoraria ban on workers who teach, write, etc. Since then you have covered how the new law will cut into the non-work related moonlighting activities of federal workers. While you have been fair on the subject, you should address an even more serious problem which I call "daylighting."
I work in an office where half the people are engaged in other things while supposedly working for the government. A couple sell household cleaning products to coworkers (which is an imposition and time-
consuming) and also sell to outsiders by phone. Most use pay phones. But they still get incoming calls that I know are not related to their federal jobs. Some do use government phones for nongovernment business.
Perhaps the biggest abusers, however, are those . . . who sell real estate from the office or have other businesses . . . . Some of them, I would estimate, spend half their . . . federal time working on nonfederal jobs. I would go to the boss, but he (and his wife) have a sideline too.
It seems odd that Congress has decided to outlaw taking money for work performed on one's own time . . . while rules which already prohibit cheating the government out of work time while pursuing a private business are ignored. No Name Please, I Have Only One Job