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Tags: telework | policies | office | vacancies | federal | investigation | remote work

Fed Remote Work Policies Spark Vacant Office Probe

By    |   Thursday, 19 October 2023 10:10 AM EDT

The Washington Times is reporting that an inspector general from the General Services Administration is opening an investigation into the impact of federal telework policies on how various agencies deliver services, and the risk of spreading disease arising from office vacancies.

"My office shares your concerns about the effect of telework on GSA's ability to carry out its mission effectively and efficiently," acting Inspector General Robert Erickson told Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, in a letter obtained by the Times. "My office plans to continue to devote attention to GSA's space utilization in our future oversight efforts."

The GSA serves as the chief landlord of federal civilian executive branch agencies and has already discovered bacteria in stagnated water in six understaffed buildings, the report said.

In September, Ernst called for all federal agencies to look into the impacts of telework policies adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic that turned federal office spaces into ghost towns.

"It's not fair to let the responsibilities of running a federal agency — and the country — fall on the shoulders of hardworking public servants who are showing up while others are out golfing on the taxpayers' dime," Ernst said in September. "That is why I have asked the Inspector General of every single federal department and agency to determine, first, the impact of telework on the delivery and response times of services, and second, how much taxpayer money could be saved by consolidating unused office space and adjusting government salaries for those who have relocated and chosen to remain out of the office."

According to Ernst, as many as 30% of Department of Health and Human Services personnel who were remote did not appear to be working on any given day during the pandemic.

"Consider as many as 30 percent of Department of Health and Human Services remote employees did not appear to be working on any given day during the pandemic," she said. "And again, these are Health and Human Services remote employees. During a pandemic you would think they would be working. They did not appear to be working, according to an internal review of employee logins to the agency's email and file systems. So, hello, federal employees, we actually can see when you're working and when you're not."

According to the Times report, GSA owns 1,600 buildings and leases space in 6,500 others for a total of 360 million square feet of office space, more than the total office space in cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles.

The agency told Congress during summer that it was adapting to the new remote work environment and would need more funding to study the issue, the report said.

Charles Kim

Charles Kim, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in reporting on news and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The Washington Times is reporting that an inspector general from the General Services Administration is opening an investigation into the impact of federal telework policies on how various agencies deliver services, and the risk of spreading disease arising from vacancies.
telework, policies, office, vacancies, federal, investigation, remote work
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2023-10-19
Thursday, 19 October 2023 10:10 AM
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