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Tags: joni ernst | department of defense | teleworkers | pentagon

Sen. Ernst Demands Pentagon Prove Teleworkers Working

By    |   Friday, 31 May 2024 11:10 AM EDT

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is reportedly cracking down on federal teleworking, demanding the Department of Defense come up with a plan to verify those employees are actually working.

A letter was sent Friday to Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland of the Defense Health Agency, the Washington Examiner reported, accusing her of "undermining the mission" of the agency to "placate the parochial interest that is DHA's employee union."

"I understand telework can be helpful for agencies when used with strategic guardrails in place," she wrote, the outlet reported. "However, as with anything, the excessive use of this option without sufficient oversight can lead to counterproductive outcomes. Clearly, as it relates to this [master labor agreement], that principle is being ignored."

Ernst wants the DHA to use virtual private network (VPN) tracking, information technology login information, and employee traffic logs to see how many teleworkers are spending most of their work time in a region with lower local pay rates — yet still pulling in higher pay.

"Time and again, when federal employees are permitted excessive telework without guardrails, it results in slower services for those the agency was created to support," Ernst wrote.

A labor agreement allows telework for up to 10 days per pay period, the outlet reported. The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, agreed to the framework with the DHA, saying it would improve working conditions for 38,000 union workers.

"DHA is expected to take it on faith that the employee is being forthright and honest with the DHA about their location when they are on permanent telework, creating a situation ripe for locality pay fraud," Ernst wrote, the outlet reported.

She also said there's "no mechanism" for managers to verify teleworking employees are not using the opportunity as a chance to do "dependent care activities while performing official duties," the outlet reported.

Ernst gave Crosland until June 13 to provide the VPN tracking and other log information, payments between the health agency, and the percentage of agency staff who teleworked an average of more than four days in the calendar year 2023.

Since August 2023, Ernst has requested investigations into 24 federal departments and agencies for their telework procedures, the outlet reported.

Fran Beyer

Fran Beyer is a writer with Newsmax and covers national politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is reportedly cracking down on federal teleworking, demanding the Department of Defense come up with a plan to verify those employees are actually working.
joni ernst, department of defense, teleworkers, pentagon
367
2024-10-31
Friday, 31 May 2024 11:10 AM
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