Two top Republican leaders on civil service issues in the House have pushed back on the Biden administration’s guidance for balancing on-site vs. off-site work as pandemic conditions ease, calling for more employees to be present at federal workplaces immediately.
“COVID-19 infections and fatalities have plummeted across the nation. The federal government’s ongoing remote work has harmed Americans’ ability to access the services they need and the Biden administration is out of excuses. It’s past time for the federal government to get back to normal and put Americans first,” said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee.
He said that by requiring bargaining and then notice to affected employees—the former potentially lasting weeks or even months and the latter generally at least another 30 days—the guidance “puts unions and federal employees first, and Americans last. Delaying workplace returns until after unions’ demands are satisfied and then providing a month’s notice to federal employees before they must return to the workplace is just another example of the Biden administration stalling our nation’s full recovery.”
Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, top Republican on the government operations subcommittee, said that the continued high rate of telework “has had a clear impact on the critical services these agencies provide with massive backlogs in processing veterans’ records, passport applications, tax returns, and so on. This is completely unacceptable.”
“The rush to get federal workers out of the offices in the first days of the pandemic meant many of the fundamental challenges and questions on how to maintain an effective workforce went unresolved – and remain unresolved over a year later. Incredibly, now, the Biden Administration is moving forward with a hasty plan to make working from home the norm for many federal employees without any real attempt to evaluate the impact on the American people,” he said.
“We need to get folks back to work and then we can assess whether to make remote work permanent,” he said.