Toomey, Wicker Urge Return of Federal Workforce to Address Unprecedented Delays
Washington DC – US Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) And 41 Senators sent a letter to the heads of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the General Services Administration (GSA) and The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will call for immediate action to bring federal workers back to in-person operations.
In the letter, senators cite the “widespread lack of responsiveness and accessibility across the federal government due to current agency work plans,” which have kept workers from working and contributed to huge delays. for government services.
âBusinesses have now reopened, kids and teachers have returned to in-person learning, and health and public safety workers continue to show up for work. Yet we continue to hear voters in our states talk about the unresponsive federal agencies, âthe senators wrote.
The letter follows months of delay by the Biden administration in implementing plans for agencies to send their workforce back to the office and resolve the growing backlog of cases that have arisen while workers worked from home.
Senators cite several examples of the impact this prolonged absence has had on government services:
- Department of Veterans Affairs – As of August 30, 2021, there were almost 182,000 applications to the Department of Veterans Affairs that were pending due to a hiatus from in-person compensation and pension reviews last year.
- Tax service – As of October 2, 2021, the IRS had 6.8 million unprocessed individual tax returns for the 2020 tax year.
- Social security administration – Social security offices across the country have been closed except for beneficiaries who make appointments and are considered to be in “great need”. Social Security recipients have been forced to use unreliable courier services to send personally identifying information or documents to local offices, as most offices will not accept these documents in person.
On June 10, 2021, the GSA, OMB and OPM released a memo regarding the return of federal employees and contractors to physical workplaces. The deadline for submitting their plans was July 19, 2021. However, given President Biden’s new vaccine tenure and the spread of the Delta variant, many agencies had to produce new plans, which currently are not yet available. available to the general public and to Congress despite pending requests.
As senators write, only one of the 20 agencies recently contacted has been able to provide a plan to its employees.
âWe understand the unique challenges that COVID-19 has presented, but Americans continue to face unprecedented delays in gaining access to their federal government. This is unacceptable, âwrote the senators.
Senators also expressed their view that the federal government should consider the costs to taxpayers of paying for offices that are not in use, saying it is a “grab on taxpayers who pay. ultimately the price of empty offices â.
“Now is the time to bring back our federal workers and deliver the service the American people have promised and expect from their government,” the senators concluded.
In addition to Wicker, the letter is signed by John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Boozman, R-Ark., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kevin Cramer, RN.D., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Ted Cruz, R -Texas, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Lindsey Graham, RS.C., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., John Hoeven, RN.D., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Kennedy, R-La., James Lankford, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Roger Marshall , R-Kan., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, James Risch, R-Idaho, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Marco Rubio, R-Fla. , Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, John Thune, RS.D., Thom Tillis, RN.C., Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., Todd Young, R-Ind., Steve Daines , R-Mont., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Rick Scott, R-Fla., And Richard Burr, RN.C.
See the full letter here.