GOP senators call on federal employees to return to office, citing 'widespread lack of responsiveness'

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FIRST ON FOX: Republican senators on Thursday called on federal employees to return to in-person work immediately, citing a “widespread lack of responsiveness” to American taxpayers. 

A group of 42 GOP senators, led by Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the General Services Administration (GSA) demanding answers on why many federal offices remain closed, despite a June order from the Biden administration requiring agencies to provide a plan for employees to return to work. 

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) 

“We wish to express our concern about the widespread lack of responsiveness and accessibility across the federal government on account of current agency work plans. We request immediate action to transition federal workers back to in-person operations,” the letter stated.

“Businesses have now reopened, children and teachers have returned to in-person learning, and health care and public safety workers continue to show up for work,” it continued. “Yet we continue to hear from constituents in our states about a lack of responsiveness from federal agencies.”

The senators said that after contacting more than 20 federal agencies, only one could provide an outline of its return-to-work plans.

SAN FRANCISCO – FEBRUARY 2:  People line up outside of the Social Security Administration office February 2, 2005 in San Francisco, California. With an eye on his legacy at the start of his second term, U.S. President George W. Bush has ambitious Social Security reforms on his agenda. His 40 minute State of the Union speech, scheduled to be delivered at 9 p.m. tonight, is thought to be centered on controversial changes to the 70-year-old program.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Others have either cited ongoing negotiations with their unions or said they had no plan to share with our offices at this time,” the letter said. “This lack of transparency is a disservice to the taxpayers that these agencies were created to support and protect.”

The senators are giving the OMB, OPM, and GSA until Nov. 11 to provide information pertaining to the administration’s return-to-work plans, including how many and which agencies have submitted a reentry plan and whether they have conducted organization-wide data collecting on remote work productivity in order to inform decision-making regarding in-person work.

The letter also asks if any agencies involved in federal workforce guidance postponed the request for reentry plans because of vaccine hesitancy among employees or whether any employees have requested to return to in-person work but been denied.

 Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) 

Sens. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., joined Wicker in signing the letter.

The letter comes after Republican senators last week introduced the Having Employees Return to Duty Act of 2021, or HERD Act, which would require federal government employees to return to in-person work amid complaints that agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA) are so backed up with applications that many Americans are having to go without benefits.

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