Biden’s ‘Back to Work’ Orders Are Too Little, Too Late – The American Spectator
Seemingly scared of the veiled threat from Congress to begin privatizing much of the federal workforce, the Biden administration recently mandated that federal employees finally start coming back to work.
Crazy thought, right? Although the public health emergency doesn’t officially expire until May, the pandemic, for all intents and purposes, ended years ago for everyone who doesn’t work in Washington, D.C., or the bubble of government bureaucracy. Even in his 2022 State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said, “It’s time for America to get back to work.”
But the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the agency responsible for hiring people to work in the federal government and the national bureaucracy — doesn’t care. It’s still allowing federal workers to party like it’s 2020, so only one in three employees are back on the job in person.
Legislators like Rep. Andy Biggs have tried to get answers from OPM about when federal departments will return to full functionality, but they say that their phone calls went unanswered.
However, due to mounting pressure from the Republican-led House Oversight Committee and watchdog groups such as the Institute for Liberty, the federal government has suddenly gotten serious about sending its employees back to work.
Following these critics’ calls to privatize many of the OPM’s functions, the Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget issued a 19-page memo in April urging federal workers to return to the office full-time. This unenforceable memo is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean that the OPM should come free of Congress’ attention, oversight, and corrective actions. (RELATED: Biden: Placeholder or Puppet?)
As House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer put it at a recent hearing on OPM’s fraud, abuse, and inefficiency, the agency is essentially conning the American people. OPM Director Kiran Ahuja has consistently dodged accountability for her problematic agency, which seems unable to perform even the most basic functions of human resources. On April 10, its online job application board comically crashed, leaving those applying for positions or those in the process of being hired unable to complete the process.
Like any big government bureaucracy, the OPM’s plan to fix its issues is for Washington to enlarge the agency even more and pump it full of more funding. Doubling down on a broken agency is precisely the wrong way to go, and it only takes a quick peek at the OPM’s horrid track record to understand what a nightmare an even bigger OPM would become.
A 2015 security breach of the OPM’s records affected 22 million federal employees and contractors as well as their friends and family. This security breach was the most extensive security failure in the history of the U.S. government. The issue was settled for $63 million last year, but the security problems that led to the hack remain intact, including subpar IT modernization and the continued usage of legacy systems to store data.
Then there’s the way that OPM actually runs its ship — and frequent crashes of the agency’s hiring portal are far from the worst of it. The OPM has no effective oversight and pays out one billion dollars of ineligible payments per year under its federal employee health benefits program. The agency also recently hired a senior leader who reportedly sexually assaulted two women in his previous position and has been plagued by negative feedback over wait times and inefficiency across the board.
The House Oversight Committee shouldn’t be fooled by Biden’s recent “back to work” posturing. Slackers always try to push papers around, and they say and do all the right things when they know the boss is watching, but then they always revert to their old tricks. If Congress turns its back on OPM, the agency will be right back to business as usual.
It’s time for Congress to pull the plug on OPM and privatize its functions to the greatest extent possible. This is likely the only chance that it will ever have to make the bloated federal bureaucracy work for, rather than against, the American people.
Tim Tapp is the host of the syndicated conservative talk show “Tapp” Into the Truth. He calls East Tennessee home, where he broadcasts and writes. Find out more at www.tappintothetruth.com.