A Government Accountability Office (GAO) memo released by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa Wednesday revealed that the Transportation Department(DOT) used only 14% of its office space.
The memo provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation shows that only six out of 24 agencies reviewed by the GAO had building utilization rates below the DOT’s 14%, with the Social Security Administration(SSA) having the lowest utilization rate at 7%. The DOT’s inspector general rejected a request by Ernst to look into issues and abuses with telework in September, citing “ongoing and planned changes” the agency was implementing for its workforce. (RELATED: ‘Golfing On The Taxpayer’s Dime’: GOP Senator Calls On Federal Employees To Return To The Office)
No agency listed in the memo used more than 49% of its building space, with the State Department reaching that figure. The Treasury Department was the only other agency surveyed by GAO to reach 40% usage.
In seeking a review of federal government agency telework policies, Ernst cited a media account of a VA employee who attended a staff meeting while taking a bubble bath. Ernst also cited the case involving an employee with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) who received $25,000 while spending over 730 hours at the golf course or on happy hours, according to an August 2015 report by the inspector general’s office of the Commerce Department.
A 2016 review by the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General revealed over 288,000 “unsupported hours” of work that were tied to $18.3 million of waste.
Ernst introduced the Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems (SHOW UP) Act on Sept. 13 to address issues with telecommuting as part of a package of legislation to rein in the “administrative state.”
“Pete Buttigieg has done nothing to address delays for Americans trying to go home for the holidays while failing to make employees arrive at work on time,” Ernst told the DCNF. “As DOT’s OIG continues to drag its feet and refuse my request to expose government waste, more dollars go down the drain to fuel the D.C. swamp. It’s time for Biden’s bureaucrats to get back to work, or forfeit their expensive, unused office space or D.C salary.”
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
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