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Gary Palmer wants federal employees to get back to work

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer thinks it’s time for federal government employees to return to the office.

“You know I grew up on a farm,” Palmer (R-Hoover) said during an Oversight Committee hearing, “and we kind of understood that when the bees leave the hive, they’re not making honey.”

The congressman asked General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Robin Carnahan why government employees are still spending so much of their time working remotely.

“This issue of telework really concerns me because it impacts productivity so much,” he argued, “and you’ve got to have a collaborative effort that you just don’t get from telework. From March of [2022] through March of [2023] you were working out of Missouri I think 121 days. That’s 46.5% of the workdays in a calendar year. You traveled 34 days, I think that’s fine, but there were another 64 days that you did not appear in person in your office. That’s 71% of the calendar work days. Do you not need to be in your office?”

Carnahan made the argument that the GSA has been able to shrink it’s real estate footprint by having more employees work remotely, but Palmer didn’t buy that explanation.

“When you talk about shrinking the footprint, that doesn’t address the issue of are you getting the job done and has productivity increased or gone down,” he said. “And productivity in the overall workforce in the United States is at levels lower than what we’ve seen in forty-something years.”

Palmer said it’s “frustrating” that the federal workers are getting away with not showing up to the office to work.

“It’s just so frustrating to me for us to do some things that are pretty good,” he said, “like divesting our portfolio of properties, but then see our productivity go down and continue to spend money when we just can’t afford to spend any more money.”

Palmer also admitted to Carnahan that this doesn’t necessarily just apply to the GSA, but is a problem across the whole federal workforce.

“The GSA may be doing great work working remotely, but I don’t think that’s true across the entire federal workforce,” he said. “And I understand you can’t do anything about it, all you can do is dispense with the property.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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