They said Wall Street banks were "too big to fail" in 2008. In 2014, it's the federal government that is "Too Big to Manage."

That's the title of a series appearing this week on by the Watchdog investigative reporting team's Mark Flatten. It's about "official time" and it's a doozy.

Never heard of official time? That's not surprising because federal officials absolutely loathe to talk about it in public.

You pay, they organize

Here's why: There are hundreds of top-dollar federal bureaucrats who don't do a lick of work for the taxpayers. They spend their days at the office working for federal employee unions.

"Federal employees spent 3.4 million hours working for their unions at taxpayers' expense, the equivalent of more than 1,700 full-time positions," Flatten reports.

"The only restriction is that official time cannot be used for strictly internal union business like conducting elections or collecting member dues."

And they can lobby

About the only thing these federal bureaucrats can't legally do is perform work that has only to do with internal union matters.

Otherwise, they are free to do whatever has even the most remote connection to "federal labor-management relations," including lobbying Congress to increase federal spending and hire more bureaucrats.

But wait, there's more! Official time also obligates taxpayers to "help out" federal employee unions:

"Standard contracts require agencies to pay for office space, phones, computers training and travel for union officials taking official time," according to Flatten.

More to come

Flatten's series is the first example of what is expected to be a long-running series of investigative reports that expose the facts about how unmanageable the federal government has become.

A hint of what to expect in the series in future days is included in Flatten's series this week: Two of the biggest and most important federal departments don't even know how many of their employees are on official time.

On today's

Editorial: Grassroots GOP looking for Hill leaders with backbone.

Watchdog/Mark Flatten: Taxpayers fund top-dollar union reps through federal government's official time.

Watchdog/EXography: Ten of top 20 big spenders in Congress are members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Watchdog/Mark Tapscott: Feds often use flawed or fabricated data to justify environmental policies.

Columnist/Gene Healy: "No Labels" is no real alternative to conventional politics.

Columnist/Cal Thomas: Retreat on immigration will hurt Republicans in 2014.

Columnist/Byron York: Obamacare will reduce real income of most Americans.

Beltway Confidential/Ashe Schow: Redistribution, lies and a nugget of good policy.

In other news

The Washington Post: Here's what House GOP is willing to use as leverage on debt ceiling.

The New York Times: Afghan leader arranged secret talks with Taliban.

ABC News: Chris Christie says "unequivocally," he didn't know about Bridgegate.

USA Today: Edible pot selling fast in Colorado.

CNN: Former TSA agent says "we laughed at scans."

CBS News: Record number of wrongful convictions overturned in 2013.

Righty Playbook

The American Thinker: GOP amnesty is the final "last straw."

The Weekly Standard: Washington's blockheads.

National Review Online: Glamour junkies.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: The farm bill fiasco.

Lefty Playbook

The Huffington Post: Keystone is the pipeline to disaster. How breaking news is breaking us.

The American Prospect: It's lonely at the top.

Bonus must-read

New Republic: The case for socialized law.

Blog Right

Gateway Pundit: Obama still uncertain about Keystone XL despite latest State Department study.

Patterico's Pontification: SNL's Lorne Michaels says GOP politicians take jokes better than Democrats.

American Power: Coke ad is not the last hill to die on, people.

Blog Left

Talking Points Memo: Conservatives have a new scheme to strip people of their Obamacare.

Wonkette: Elizabeth Warren will help the Post Office kick payday lender ass.

Shakesville: Our economy was built on a big middle class. Whoops.