Federal Manager's Daily Report

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An IG audit several concerns of SSA managers different from those of front-line employees in the agency’s restricted field office operations due to the pandemic, including taking on additional duties and a view by some that “SSA leadership prioritized the health and safety of bargaining employees over management/non-bargaining employees.”

In a survey, interviews and onsite visits conducted last May-July, auditors examined the impact of cutting back field office operations in which mostly managers and a limited number of other employees have been present to handle certain appointments and other work that could not be done remotely. Managers took on the majority of work such as opening mail, electronically sending documents and returning documents to the public since employees who normally would handle those duties were not present, it said.

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“Some managers expressed concerns about their increased work in the office and their ability to perform that work in addition to their normal managerial duties,” it said, adding that some “stated they felt overworked, dispensable, and unappreciated.”

In addition, some “felt the health and safety of bargaining unit employees was more important to Agency leadership than management’s health and safety because it is primarily managers who have to be on-site managers who have to be on-site.”

The audit also identified issues including inaccurate counts of visitors and onsite employees and inaccurate records of whether offices had to be temporarily closed because of virus exposures.

The IG added that its findings do not necessarily apply to all offices and that considerations may be different now. The SSA is one of the few agencies to have publicly announced a “reentry” schedule, with a general return of pre-pandemic operations at field offices planned for the upcoming weeks.

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