WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Nearly four years after the start of the pandemic, a historically large portion of federal office space in Washington, D.C., remains empty or underutilized.
The White House continues to push departments and agencies to have more federal employees in the office during the week, but congressional Republicans say it’s the Biden administration that needs to work harder and faster.
Some estimates say around 50% of employees continue to work remotely after pandemic-era social distancing measures have gone by the wayside.
Democrats and Republicans both have expressed concern that productivity from the government has gone down in some respects, and they’re wondering whether telework is to blame.
Without hard data on hand, lawmakers have asked the United States Office of Management and Budget to investigate if there are specific backlogs in the regular mechanics of government.
James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told NewsNation gathering that information could be useful.
“Are you going to have them work from home? Are they going to work in an office? If they’re going to work from home, prove to us that it does decrease productivity and that’s a better deal for the American people. I don’t think they can, but let’s say they can. Then let’s get rid of some of this excessive office space,” Comer said.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) says there is 3.5 million square feet of office space in 23 different D.C. buildings it believes is unnecessary. The GSA estimates shuttering those facilities may save taxpayers about $1 billion over 10 years.
But there’s a sticking point.
The GSA is incapable of acting on any cost-saving plan without a budget being passed in Congress, which lawmakers have failed to do.
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Author: Joe Khalil