President Biden’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is being forced to re-evaluate its telework and locality pay policies following a bombshell report that revealed the agency was only 7 percent occupied.
A bombshell report late last year revealed that all federal agencies are less than 50 percent occupied – wasting an estimated $2.8 million per day.
That’s a staggering statistic since federal agencies spend about $2 billion taxpayer dollars per year to operate and maintain federal office buildings – and over $5 billion annually in leases.
The data compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed an ‘estimated three-month average space utilization’ statistics that were collected for 24 agencies during one-week periods in January, February and March 2023.
The agency with the greatest percentage of in-office staff for the three months was the State Department at 49 percent. HUD took home the prize for the least space utilization at just 7 percent.
As a result, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, wrote to the agencies last year, demanding an immediate review of their telework and pay policies.
She received a response Monday from HUD, first obtained by DailyMail.com, that stated the agency ‘has initiated an evaluation’ to assess the issues.
ePresident Joe Biden and HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took home the prize for the least space utilization (7 percent)
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and other lawmakers say billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted based on unused federal office space
‘My office has initiated an evaluation to assess HUD employees’ utilization of remote and telework programs and HUD’s administration of locality payments to remote and telework employees,’ wrote HUD Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis.
The agency is currently working to ensue its security operations are also compliant and up to speed so it can detect ‘malicious activity.’
Ernst told DailyMail.com that ‘no one is home at HUD’ and it’s time to end the rampant abuse of unused federal buildings.
She is pledging to continuously hold ‘agencies’ feet to the fire’ in order to end ‘taxpayer theft.’
Ernst added that she will ensure HUD’s investigation is ‘completed thoroughly, so we can end this taxpayer waste and put it back in the pockets of Americans working hard to put a roof over their own heads.’
According to the GAO report, the Social Security Administration tied HUD at 7 percent utilization, followed by the the Small Business Administration at 9 percent. The General Services Administration (GSA) tied the Department of Agriculture at a measly 11 percent.
Biden’s Chief of Staff Jeff Zients also ordered Cabinet heads to ensure that their workforce returns to the office this year.
According to a memo obtained by DailyMail.com, he wrote last month that federal employees should be in the office at least 50 percent of their work time in order to achieve the goals of the administration.
He highlighted the State Department’s ‘expectation’ that all employees are in the office at least 3-4 times per week because there’s ‘no substitute’ for ‘engaging face-to-face’ when it comes to diplomacy.
But he also acknowledged that ‘some of your agencies are not where they need to be.’
Ernst and other lawmakers say billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted based on unused federal office space.
More than 75 percent of the available office space at 17 different federal agencies is still empty, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
And according to a recent letter from the General Services Administration (GSA) obtained by DailyMail.com last month, the agency says the use of office space is being scrutinized.
GSA was found to have on 11 percent occupation in the memo.
‘My office will devote attention to GSA’s space utilization in our future oversight efforts,’ Inspector General Robert Erickson wrote at the end of September.
‘For example, we are currently considering an audit to examine whether GSA has appropriately evaluated its physical space needs and utilization to consider increased employee telework and remote positions,’ wrote Erickson.
The GSA also acknowledged ‘challenges’ due to space utilization in a new hybrid work model.
Federal employees have taken advantage of work from home policies in a variety of ways.
Damning reports reveal government employees have been in meetings while taking bubble baths, still got paid while on the golf course and attended happy hours while on the clock.
This has been occurring at the same time the backlog of passports continues and veterans have to wait months for appointments with their doctors.