Government Watch / Instagram / Politics

Will 2022 Be the Year That Federal Workers Finally Go Back to Work?

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

work from home

When President Joe Biden assumed office in 2020, he made it explicitly clear that ending the pandemic and getting Americans back to work was his main priority. At the time, it seemed natural to assume that these plans included federal government workers whom Biden now directly oversees. However, nearly a year later, even with 90% of all federal employees now vaccinated, most federal employees are still working from home. Even as the rest of the country returns to work, the sprawling complexes of massive federal buildings in the heart of Washington D.C. are mostly empty. The streets are deserted, and coffee shops and restaurants are still struggling to stay afloat due to the decrease in foot traffic. The Deep State has become the Asleep State, leading many Republican lawmakers to question the delay in getting government workers—who are still collecting their full salaries—back on the job.

If there is one federal agency that undoubtedly should be showing up for work, it would be the Centers for Disease Control. However, in a hearing last month, Bidens CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, inadvertently let slip that it’s far from “business as usual ” for federal employees under her leadership. According to Senator Bill Cassidy who questioned her, more than 75% of CDC’s federal employees were still working remotely and not in their office. While Walensky declined to confirm the Senator’s figures directly, she affirmed that essential lab employees were coming in but otherwise failed to provide any clear guidance as to how or when the rest of the staff would be returning to in-person full-time work.

The problem doesn’t stop with the CDC – and it doesn’t appear that telework is going anywhere soon. The U.S. Federal Office of Personnel Management made it very clear that, as far as the federal government is concerned, remote work is here to stay. Under Biden, for the first time since 2011, OPM revised its telework policy to explicitly encourage Government Agencies to “expand telework, remote work permanently.”

The prospect of widespread, permanent telework raises several questions about the fulfillment of federal agencies’ missions—questions of fiscal responsibility, cybersecurity, privacy, and good government. It certainly must strike many Americans as galling that, while the Biden administration is pushing to fire unvaccinated workers from their jobs, fully vaccinated federal employees are not even being mandated to show up for work.

Evidence is already piling up that telework policies are affecting the productivity and effectiveness of federal bureaucracies (to the extent that they were ever effective, to begin with). As of early November, Americans were waiting 12 to 18 weeks to get a passport – a process that normally takes just 4 to 6 weeks. The IRS also had yet to process 6.8 million 2020 tax returns; there were more than 182,000 outstanding claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Social Security recipients were citing a “dire need” for in-person appointments. Newly married women seeking to change their names are being advised that if they send in their identification for the paperwork, they cannot be guaranteed when they will get it back. All of this prompted more than 40 Senators to pen a letter to government agencies urging them to return to in-person work, citing “widespread lack of responsiveness and accessibility across the federal government on account of current agency work plans.”

Government bureaucrats may also be taking advantage of expanded telework to receive more pay than they should. Salary for government employees is directly tied to where their office is located. As many offices are located in Washington D.C. or other large cities, federal employees receive salaries that are significantly higher than much of the country due to the higher cost of living. However, since the pandemic began, many federal workers have completely relocated out of the capital and settled in areas with far lower costs of living. Despite this, they continued to earn an income that was tied to the cost of living in the D.C. Metro area.

Instead of working to curb this clear exploitation of the system, OPM has announced that those federal employees who are eligible to return to the office only need to be present two days out of every pay period to qualify for D.C.-based income. In theory, an employee could live in a rural, low-income, part of the country and be paid at D.C. rates so long as they show up in the office every two weeks. And this policy only applies to employees who are eligible to return to the office; many are still not required to be in office, even if they are vaccinated or otherwise at low risk from the virus.

At a time in which Biden finds himself struggling to fulfill his campaign promises and even ensure basic government functions, mandating federal employees return to the office seems like an obvious decision. Biden has given no medical or practical reason as to why he refuses to ask the humungous taxpayer-funded workforce under his supervision to appear regularly in the office. One theory floated by some conservative commentators is that the overwhelming majority of federal employees are progressively inclined and vote Democrat. With President Biden’s sinking poll numbers, he may want to avoid offending one of the few reliable bases he has left.

Regardless, some legislators refuse to wait for President Biden to take the initiative. Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.), has aggressively called on Inspectors General to “assess the impact of telework on federal agencies’ mission, employee performance, and service to the American people during the pandemic.” He further stated that “thanks to Operation Warp Speed, millions of Americans are safely returning to the workplace,” but that it is “clear that the unprecedented number of federal employees working remotely has significantly contributed to massive delays, inefficiencies, and declines in performance – all to the detriment of American taxpayers.”

The issue of the federal government’s return to the office arises as the reconciliation bill currently being debated in the Senate proposes adding thousands of new bureaucrats to agencies like the IRS and the Department of Labor. The Biden administration’s reasoning for these expansions is to assist in “enforcement activities” and to better help agencies meet their statutory missions. But a good first step in increasing the effectiveness of the federal bureaucracy, rather than making it even more bloated and expensive, might be to make sure the federal employees already on the payroll are actually doing their jobs.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in D.C. at the intersection of politics and culture. 


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Karen
5 months ago

Sure hoping that this whole bucket of garbage comes to a final end. Also hope that the Reps are doing a lot more than what we hear to make this administration disappear.

GTPatriot
5 months ago

Pile on top of this the millions of teachers who haven’t worked in over a year but are still paid.
Along with the dems they run our country. How can I get a gig like this ?

HocasPocas
5 months ago
Reply to  GTPatriot

Have to be a democrat who believes in destroying your country

GTPatriot
5 months ago

These are the highest paid “workers” in the US ( not America). Huge salaries and monstrous
retirement benes. Every new fed program requires hundreds of thousands of fed employees
to monitor and enforce it. Perhaps we will all soon be working for the fed. Happy days. Right ?
Wait a minute: Who will pay the bill ? China, you fool. Until they decide to pull the plug and take
over the country without firing a shot. Gee. We are such geniuses.

Jimmy
5 months ago

Coming to you half dead Potato Head himself and his ship of growing fools.

Chris Barnes
5 months ago

This administration is a joke

Matt Knighton
5 months ago

It’s absolute foolishness for any human being to suggest, claim, or promise that they have the ability to end a global pandemic. The only thing that is more foolish is about 75 million people (give or take) believing it.

The idiocy of it all is tantamount to someone attempting to do what only one Man in history has ever done: command the wind and the waves to cease, resulting in nature’s instant obedience.

Biden’s campaign promise was much more than a lie. It was a revelation of his true character: a complete and utter fool. Such is the sad condition of our country’s leadership.

As a citizen of our great country, I’m not sure if I should pray, “God bless us,” or “God help us!”

Charlie Collins
5 months ago

First off Biden didn’t take office until 2021

HocasPocas
5 months ago

First off Biden stole the position that he currently resides in

Charlie Collins
5 months ago

First off biden didn’t take office until 202

Kate
5 months ago

I wouldn’t even worry yet. Before midterm elections Biden will be gone and Kamalhair will be running the show. Nancy has it all planned!

Brenda
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

HORRORS

C Murphy
5 months ago

Unbelievable! Again government is raping the people they were hired to help. Thnx Joe.

Hal
5 months ago

Just “e pluribus unum” on the latest publicized Joe Hidin’ Biden foul up. Biden continues to widen his sidin’ with ineptitude. It really bothers me that Joe Hidin’ Biden continues to foul up everything he gets involved with. Much of his actions are simply dumb. And the Democraps are quietly hay for themselves while the heat focuses on Joe Hidin’ Biden. But do not be naive .., the Democraps are working hard to set up rigging for the next election cyclel.

HocasPocas
5 months ago
Reply to  Hal

I agree with you 100%, Hal

BAE
5 months ago

Does the federal government work or just take and spend the tax payers money? No work, no paycheck, then they’ll return to work.

Edward
5 months ago

Dont count on it.

Victoria Johnson
5 months ago

Many, particularly the elderly, are not proficient in conducting business over the internet. You can’t get immediate answers to questions and the thread of the inquiry is lost in the delay when using the mail. Many elderly also have diminished hearing and don’t ‘hear’ or understand every word said over a telephone line even if (or because) they use hearing aids.

I, for one, will go out of my way to have a face to face meeting for any serious matter such as Social Security or IRS. In Reno, they’ve completely closed the IRS office to the public, whom they are supposed to be serving.

HocasPocas
5 months ago

That’s why they operate the way they do. They couldn’t eliminate enough senior citizens with their Covid techniques, so they have to come up with a new plan. Too many people caught on to their elimination techniques with Covid so now they will take away anything that you own or any income and medical benefits that is handled by the communist party

Brenda
1 month ago

I feel seniors are not being considered with all the new tech…..many don’t know how or what todo with it….being left out

William L Skinner, Sr
5 months ago

Easy to solve. Stop the pay checks until they report back to work. (Would probably cause a series of auto crashes driving so fast to get back to work.)

Papa Doug
5 months ago

Will Republicans retake both houses and return sanity to America? ONLY if we stop fraudulent voting!

MariaRose
5 months ago

No putdown on jobs that can be worked from home, what I am going to address is the lack of efficiency which causes the “need” for a large number of federal workers in their guaranteed jobs. Unlike jobs in the regular corporate world where performance determines pay rate and continuance of employment, federal workers, once classified as a “regular” employee over a substitute/temp worker can NOT be fired/laid off/lose pay. Yeah, when the government has a shutdown, they may have a stoppage in paychecks but they will still Eventually get paid for all the time/days of the shutdown, plus they will not put any more effort into working faster to catch up. Why do you think IRS had to delay everything because of the government shutdown, which was deliberately timed to coincide with planned vacation time? We don’t need more government workers we just need more efficient government workers. Why do you think USPS had to slowdown delivery rates–it had to do with how “fast/slow” the workers are. Plus all these government workers have powerful unions whose contracts cover this.

Judith Davis
5 months ago

Love to see the Federal Government work, period!!!

HocasPocas
5 months ago
Reply to  Judith Davis

Correction, work for the people

Phillip Ridenour
5 months ago

My daughter and her husband are both federal employees working from home. It seems that in so doing they are both saving themselves money by not commuting, and saving the government money by not using electricity in the empty office building. However, my daughter’s supervisor just threw away some $100K remodeling and refurnishing said empty office, instead of hiring more staff to handle their heavy caseload. Uncle Sam giveth and Uncle Sam taketh away. SMH.

Philip Hammersley
5 months ago

Dr. “Falsie” and his crew and the dictatorial governors have cheated millions of students out of a whole year’s education. Only a few students (very dedicated) can learn as much online as in person!

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