As ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on July 24, 2019
S. 2169 would permit federal agencies to provide additional leave for federal employees working in specified foreign areas. Agencies could grant up to 5 days of leave to those employees to recognize local holidays or to advance the diplomatic interests of the United States. Under the bill, agencies could also grant up to 20 days of leave for rest and recuperation to federal employees in combat zones or other areas with high levels of political violence or terrorism. Currently, agencies may provide administrative leave for those purposes, but the Administrative Leave Act of 2016 generally limits the amount to 10 days. Because final regulations implementing that law have not been issued, those limitations have not yet gone into effect.
The costs of the legislation, detailed in Table 1, largely fall within budget functions 050 (national defense) and 150 (international affairs).
For this estimate, CBO assumes that the leave provisions would take effect halfway through fiscal year 2020 and that the costs would increase each year because of anticipated inflation.
CBO estimates that the additional leave provided under the bill would cost a total of $214 million between 2020 and 2024. Of that amount, $142 million stems from the additional holiday leave provided to employees working abroad, with annual costs growing from $14 million in 2020 to $34 million in 2024. According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of State, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), approximately 50,000 federal employees are working abroad at a daily cost of $450 per employee, on average. Using information from those agencies, CBO estimates that roughly 25 percent of those employees would receive the additional leave. If agencies provided that leave to a larger proportion of employees, the costs associated with providing holiday leave would be greater.
CBO also estimates that the additional leave for rest and recuperation would cost $72 million over the next five years, with annual costs rising from $8 million in 2020 to $16 million in 2024. Using information from DoD and OPM, CBO estimates that about 1,500 employees in combat zones would be granted on average an additional 15 days of leave each year. According to the Department of State, about 400 of its employees would receive an additional 20 days of leave each year.
The costs included in this estimate equal 50 percent of the total costs of implementing the bill’s policies because on July 13, 2017, OPM published a notice of proposed rulemaking to limit the amount of administrative leave agencies may use as stipulated in the Administrative Leave Act of 2016.
CBO estimates that the other provisions of S. 2169 would not significantly affect the budget.