Industries of all types embraced telework options wherever possible during the COVID-19 pandemic — and the U.S. government was no exception.
Although many private-sector workers are now being required to head back into an office to do their jobs, the Biden administration is allowing even more employees in various agencies to work from home. Making matters worse, according to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), is the fact that there are little to no accountability measures in place to ensure that the important work of these agencies is actually getting done.
Burr recently spoke out on the matter after hearing from four federal departments — the Interior, Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development — and realizing that none of them are accurately tracking the hours ostensibly being worked by remote staffers.
In a letter to the Office of Personnel Management, he denounced the “wholly inadequate and non-responsive” strategies in place to hold remote employees accountable.
He added: “Taken together, this evasiveness does not inspire confidence that the Biden administration even cares whether the federal workforce is, in fact, working while remote.”
Investigative reports have bolstered Burr’s concerns, including an article published by the Washington Free Beacon in June that showed roughly one-fourth of all telework employees at the Department of Health and Human Services did not even log into the accounts that contain vital workplace components including email and teleconferencing platforms.
The following month, Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja vowed to look into the concerns raised in the Free Beacon’s report while claiming that working from home can actually “enhance productivity.”
As of the latest updates available, Ahuja had not directly responded to the subsequent complaints contained in Burr’s letter.
During the pandemic, 25% of HHS employees didn’t even check their emails for 10 months.
But the Biden Administration continues to push for expanded telework for federal bureaucrats.
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) July 21, 2022
Former Health and Human Services chief of staff Brian Harrison sounded the alarm during the height of the pandemic in 2020, when about half of all federal workers were remote. The Free Beacon received a leaked copy of his internal memo and he later went on the record to discuss the problem.
“The American people deserve complete transparency on whether they have been paying thousands of federal employees billions of dollars not to work,” he said.