Members of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are once again asking Federal agencies to share data on how many of their employees are teleworking, after not receiving a response to their initial request for that data in May.
Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., sent new letters to 25 Federal agencies on Aug. 4, asking for information on Federal telework and remote work rates and policies.
“One of two options is currently playing out: either Federal agencies are withholding information from Congress or Federal agencies are not tracking telework and remote work policies as required by the law. Both possibilities are deeply concerning,” the lawmakers said in an Aug. 7 statement.
“The American people show up to work every day and Federal agencies should follow their example. Committee Republicans remain steadfast in our pursuit of answers and if Federal agencies continue to withhold this information, we will resort to compulsory measures,” they added.
The letter calls on the heads of agencies to provide the House Oversight Republican members with data regarding teleworking and remote workers no later than Aug. 28.
In April, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asked Federal agencies to increase the amount of in-person work at offices, while also balancing telework as an important retention tool. OMB Director Shalanda Young instructed agencies to develop updated “work environment plans” based on post-pandemic reentry plans.
Committee Chairman Comer voiced his opposition to OMB’s guidance, criticizing the Biden administration’s “prolonged pandemic-era telework.”
“Since the Biden administration refuses to discover the number of Federal employees teleworking, the Oversight Committee plans to do their work for them,” Rep. Comer said in April. “It’s essential the Federal workforce get back to the workplace and provide better service to the American people.”
Nevertheless, the White House called on Federal agencies last week to “aggressively execute” plans for Federal employees to spend more time in the office after years of working from home. White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients instructed Federal agencies to increase the amount of in-person work for their teams beginning in September and October.
However, it appears the White House still plans to utilize some amount of telework, as Zients said that “these changes will allow us to harness the benefits of enhanced flexibilities that we experienced during the pandemic, while ensuring we have the in-person time we need to build a strong culture, trust, and interpersonal connections.”