WASHINGTON–Too many federal employees are working from home and making that a permanent situation is a mistake, said Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.). In a November memo from the Office of Personnel Management, federal agencies received guidance saying that agencies have employees have performed effectively during the pandemic.
Banks strongly disagrees with that assessment.
“Right now we have a backlog of 182,000 claims at the VA for our veterans, who by the way, are calling my office everyday. They’re frustrated with the bureaucracy,” said Banks on Fox News Thursday. “That backlog, by the way, is caused specifically because the VA employees are working from home.”
In a 79-page memo to guide agencies on employee policy, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said telework should be a part of the permanent plan for some agencies.
“Employees were able to continue to meet the challenges of their jobs head-on from locations other than their regular duty station, apart from their managers, supervisors, and colleagues. Agencies demonstrated that they have been able to continue to carry out their missions effectively,” read the memo.
“As a result, agencies now have an opportunity to revisit how they were operating prior to the pandemic and leverage lessons learned to integrate telework and remote work into their strategic workforce plans.”
Banks disputed that assertion.
“We have Social Security offices all over the country that have closed. You have to do everything by mail with Social Security because workers are working from home,” he said. “You have a 12 to 18-week backlog for Visa applications at the State Dept. because of this mess.”
The State Department website says the agency is attempting to get back to business as normal on a location-by-location basis, acknowledging that local lockdowns are having an effect on the number of visas being processed.
A report from the Social Security Administration this summer acknowledged the mail backlog and delays caused by the closure of offices.
Banks also said some constituents have complained about not receiving a tax refund for this year yet.
“Really at the end of the day, it’s a matter of fairness,” said the Congressman. He said he believes that federal workers receiving good benefits and pay should at some point, have to return to a more effective and efficient working environment.