Whistleblower: White House telework polices have turned federal offices into a 'ghost town'

 February 29, 2024

A whistleblower warned last year that the Biden White House's telework policies have led to a crisis within the federal workforce. 

That's according to a letter which was obtained by the Daily Mail. Sent to Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, it detailed how telework created an "impersonal and inefficient" work environment.

Reduced "productivity, efficiency, and cooperation"

Authored by someone who purports to be a supervisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the correspondence complains of reduced "productivity, efficiency, and cooperation."

It alleged that the "vast majority" of USDA employees were working remotely, with federal buildings often resembling a "ghost town."

Those contentions are supported by a report released earlier this month from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

It found that between January and March of 2023, only 11% of USDA offices were occupied while similar rates of occupancy were found at other federal agencies.

Employees "are often unreachable"

The whistleblower went on to assert that telework is "hampering productivity" as employees "are often unreachable and do not respond to simple email questions for hours."

"This leads to inefficiency in completing tasks in a timely manner and to delays in clearing documents and reports due to the inability to reach colleagues," the individual explained.

This lack of in-person interaction is also said to be "hindering discussions" on important problems as well as creating a roadblock to building trust.

"Working by email and video conferencing is impersonal and inefficient compared to in-person interaction," the letter went on to state.

Senator complains that taxpayers "are still on the hook"

For her part, Ernst highlighted the letter on Wednesday when questioning Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"We're just weeks away from the four-year anniversary of federal buildings being 'temporarily' closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic," she pointed out.

"As you know, GAO says that your headquarters has a space utilization rate of 11%. It has gotten so bad that one of your employees went so far as to write me an anonymous letter," Ernst told Vilsack.

Ernst also provided a statement to the Daily Mail that read, "While taxpayers are still on the hook paying for bureaucrats' salaries and amenities, a USDA supervisor confirmed that not only are its employees failing to show up, they are not working productively or efficiently for the American people."

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