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Federal Bureaucrats’ Abuse Of Work-From-Home Protocols Costs You Service, And Joni Ernst Is Calling Foul

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Are federal work-from-home programs more costly than they appear? Joni Ernst wants answers.

The Iowa senator is demanding federal investigators probe the remote work protocols that some federal employees have abused to check out of work while on the taxpayer’s dime. On Tuesday, the Midwestern lawmaker sent letters to inspector generals at each federal agency demanding they examine the efficiency of telework arrangements that remain widespread following the initial outbreak of the novel Wuhan coronavirus.

“Remote work provides federal agencies with an opportunity to reduce costs for taxpayers and increase the ability to recruit and retain talent for public service,” Ernst wrote. “However, such arrangements only work for taxpayers when telework does not (1) harm the agencies’ ability to achieve their mission, (2) adversely impact the timely delivery of quality services, or (3) impede or impair the management of the federal workforce and taxpayer money.”

Ernst presented her monthly “Squeal Award” highlighting wasteful government spending to federal employees who’ve misused remote work opportunities at the expense of taxpayers.

In a press release, Ernst cited long wait times at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and passport delays at the Department of State. The Social Security Administration is also struggling to properly function as the agency transitions to remote work.

“Frustrated Americans are being put on hold while too many federal employees are phoning it in,” Ernst said.

One employee at the VA even called into a meeting from a bubble bath and bragged about it with a post on social media.

“My office for the next h[ou]r,” read the caption accompanying a photo of the man’s government-issued laptop on the ledge of a tub.

The senator’s Squeal Award cited a fall report from the Office of Personnel Management showing just 1 in 3 federal employees has returned to the office full-time. Ernst used the award to promote her bill, the Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies for Meaningful Placement (SWAMP) Act of 2023, to move bureaucrats outside of Washington.

“The intent of my bill is to make those creating the rules more accountable to the folks who have to live under them,” Ernst said. “Letting federal employees work when, where, and even if they want to, however, is having the exact opposite effect.”

While the bill currently has no co-sponsors, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn have previously proposed similar legislation to decentralize the federal bureaucracy.

Ernst presented last month’s Squeal Award to White House Climate Envoy John Kerry for taking fossil-fueled trips to lecture the rest of the world on climate.


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