by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Several federal agencies have no system in place to monitor whether remote workers are actually clocking in for the job—a fact one Republican senator said is “unacceptable and baffling” as the Biden administration pushes to expand telework options for its growing number of federal workers.
Four federal agencies told the Washington Free Beacon they have no specific oversight of remote employees: the Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agencies said their usual productivity measurements are adequate to track employees who shifted to remote work at the start of the pandemic. Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.) received a similar response from the Department of Labor when he asked about the agency’s telework policies—and said this justification is “wholly inadequate and non-responsive.”
“Taken together, this evasiveness does not inspire confidence that the Biden administration even cares whether the federal workforce is, in fact, working while remote,” Burr wrote in an August letter to the Office of Personnel Management, which manages federal telework policies.
Burr justified his push for transparency on telework policies by citing a Free Beacon report in June that found at least a quarter of remote employees at the Department of Health and Human Services failed to log on to their agency’s software suite, which includes their email, video conference calls, and other applications needed to perform remote work. HHS did not respond to letters from Burr nor a Free Beacon request for comment on how it plans to address the lack of activity from remote workers.
The Biden administration this year has pushed to make lenient pandemic telework policies permanent as agencies prepared to return to the office. The White House plan is backed by House Democrats. …