Senator Joni Ernst places federal agencies on ‘naughty’ list

(The Center Square) – It’s a Christmas list U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said President Joe Biden doesn’t want the public to see.

Ernst’s “naughty” list of federal agencies shows that telework has left office buildings at least half empty four years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced workers to work from home.

The list from the Biden administration said the Social Security Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are using just 7% of their space. The agency using most of its space is the State Department, located in the Harry S. Truman Building, which uses 49% of its space.

“COVID’s been over for years,” Ernst said. “Where are all the workers? And if we’re not going to go and actually work within these agencies, then maybe we need to get rid of this space because it does cost a lot to rent these buildings in Washington, D.C. or own them. If we are not going to use it, then lose it.”

Ernst called for an investigation in August into how telework affected delivery services.

Last month, the General Services Administration announced it was disposing of 23 properties that could save the agency $1 billion in cost avoidance over the next 10 years. Five buildings were shed in fiscal year 2023, and six will be sold in fiscal year 2024, GSA said.

Of the 23 listed in November, only two are in Washington, D.C.- the Nebraska Avenue Complex and the Webster School Building. The remaining properties are located in various states, including post offices and federal buildings.

“GSA and our agency partners will continue to assess space needs and accelerate the disposition of federal buildings that are underperforming, underused, or otherwise don’t use taxpayer dollars effectively,” the agency said in a news release.

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