WASHINGTON—James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, spoke to the House today in support of: HR 139, Laws to stop the unproductive problems of working from home (Showup method).
Comer introduced the SHOW UP Act, which requires federal workers to return to pre-pandemic telework levels so that agencies can best serve the American public. The SHOW UP Act also calls for a critical overhaul of pandemic-era telework policies. This continues to be in place and undermines the federal government’s ability to deliver critical programs.
Below is Chairman Comer’s remarks ready for distribution.
Speaker, thank you very much.
I support HR 139, the Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems Act, or the SHOW UP Act.
This bill is urgent.
Federal employees need to get back to work.
Federal agencies are failing in their mission.
they are not doing their duty.
They are betraying Americans.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most federal employees stayed home.
They were relying on telework because it was possible.
But when the rest of America returned to in-person jobs, federal workers didn’t.
The American people suffered as a result.
They have been waiting months for a tax refund from the IRS.
They waited months for the Social Security Administration to answer their questions and offer their benefits.
Our veterans have waited months to get their medical records from the National Archives.
The National Archives is responsible for maintaining veterans’ medical records.
However, veterans did not have access to these records because archive staff were at home.
This is unacceptable.
And it’s downright embarrassing for these institutions.
The American people have suffered high inflation, shortages of supplies, long and devastating lockdowns, and other hardships.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been showering federal employees with perks and pay raises throughout the “work from home” period.
But the absence of federal employees in the workplace undermines the federal government’s ability to carry out its duties and deliver critical programs.
Republicans in the House have fought hard to find out just how much remote work has reduced the ability of government agencies to serve voters.
And I’ve tried to get this information from the Biden administration, but to no avail.
During the last Congress, as a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, I sent a letter to the Administration seeking information on the federal return-to-work policy for workers.
However, the Biden administration has failed to provide adequate answers to our inquiries.
Instead, we continued to enforce our expanded telework policy long after the pandemic ended.
Also, the expanded telework policy was used to help recruit new employees to the federal government, not to help voters.
The federal workforce already enjoys many perks not enjoyed by the private sector, including unmatched job security, healthy retirement benefits, and the prospect of reliable wage growth.
As the pandemic subsided, you would have thought that federal workers, like private sector workers across the country, were back in the office.
But it’s not.
According to the Office of Human Resources’ latest report on teleworking, 47% of federal employees were teleworking routinely or on a case-by-case basis in fiscal 2021.
This was up 2% from fiscal 2020, when the pandemic hit.
The Federal Times reported in October that only one in three federal employees will be back in the office full-time in 2022.
But last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that a new study by Cushman & Wakefield found that “only 5% of the pre-pandemic workforce returned to work in Washington DC’s federally rented buildings in October and November. I didn’t,” he reported.[.]”
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged President Biden to suspend telework policies for federal employees or turn over federal buildings in D.C. for affordable housing, as the federal government’s abuse of telework has become so severe. asked to convert.
Also, the current OPM director said federal employees are actually being transferred to agencies that allow telework.
The SHOW UP Act provides a much-needed solution to this problem of federal agencies and employees putting their comfort above the needs of voters.
Federal agencies must immediately return to pre-pandemic levels of telework.
This will ensure that, from the date of enactment, the federal workforce’s first priority will be prompt and effective service to voters, without increasing the perks of already privileged federal bureaucrats.
The SHOW UP Act also calls for a government-wide review of pandemic-era work-from-home policies.
This will allow Congress to see how enhanced telework will improve or undermine effectiveness, cost per agency, and network security across the vast federal government.
The bill would also prevent the Biden administration from anchoring higher levels of telework until Congress receives a detailed plan of how it will affect agency performance.
Agencies’ plans show that increased telecommuting will significantly improve agency performance, reduce agency costs, ensure agency network security, and facilitate the distribution of federal employees across the country. If so, you can consider increasing telecommuting as an option.
But until increased telework proves to serve voters and the country better.
I urge all my colleagues to uphold this important legislation and reserve the remainder of my time.