By Rick Manning
The Washington Free Beacon reported last month that during the crucial first ten months of the pandemic from March to December 2020, approximately twenty-five percent of the employees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services failed to log-in to the office suite which includes their email accounts even once.
One quarter of the employees at the very federal agency which America depended upon to do its job as the White House scrambled to meet the COVID challenge, never bothered to check their emails.
At the same time, while unemployment soared from 3.5 to 14.7 percent for private sector employees from February to April 2020 due to the pandemic, the Department responsible for our nation’s Health and Human Services policy had at least 25 percent of its bureaucrats AWOL.
They cashed their paychecks. They just didn’t do anything else.
We know this because Brian Harrison, who served as the Chief of Staff for HHS during the last year of the Trump administration did his job. He commissioned a report on daily employee activity at HHS, which was delivered in the waning weeks of the administration.
Subsequently, the Biden administration has dramatically expanded the expectation of federal employees that they should work from home and believe it or not, many federal agencies still have not returned to work unlike the rest of America.
The public employee union owned House of Representatives run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now busily trying to normalize “work from home” by passing legislation forcing any administration to notify Congress of changes by the Office of Personnel Management to get bureaucrats back into their offices.
New Mexico Republican House member Yvette Harrell has other ideas having introduced legislation to return federal work from home policies to those in place prior to the pandemic to determine the impact of what are apparently ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ civil service attendance procedures.
Given the challenges for GOP members in getting even the most reasonable legislation passed into law with a Democrat Congress and president, it should be a non-negotiable requirement in the upcoming appropriations bills that the federal workforce should not be funded without a full audit of every employee’s computer usage, their annual performance ratings, raises and other compensation, along with other performance metrics for the past three years.
Americans deserve to know how many of those they have been paying in the federal bureaucracy have been little more than no-shows, and in fairness what percentage of the civil service has worked long and hard to meet our nation’s needs during this unparalleled time.
If, as is reasonable to assume, the HHS failure to check email percentage holds to the rest of the federal workforce, it would mean that more than 500,000 people simply pocketed their paychecks without doing anything whatsoever to earn them. Federal employment figures show that at the end of the federal fiscal year for 2020, the average employee was paid just over $90,000 a year, meaning taxpayers paid about $37 billion in salary (not counting health care and extremely generous retirement benefits) between March and December of 2020 to those who never checked in.
Recognizing that logging into your company email system one-time over the course of a ten-month period is a pretty-low bar, it is imperative for Congress to force a full accounting as soon as possible to learn exactly which positions are “non-essential” based upon the verifiable action of those who currently hold them.
The author is president of Americans for Limited Government
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