Ernst wants schedule of federal department heads posted online

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(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is calling on the Office of Budget and Management to post the schedules of federal department heads after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was out of office and in the hospital for four days.

The senator cited a story in Politico that said Austin’s office was told he would be working from home for a week. It was later learned that Austin was recovering from complications brought on by prostate cancer treatment.

“If true, this begs the question, is Secretary Austin working from home so frequently that he can disappear into the hospital for an entire week to undergo invasive surgery, and folks simply just think he’s working from home again?” Ernst asked in a letter to OBM Director Shalanda Young. “When department secretaries do work from home, are they as nonresponsive as someone under general anesthesia?”

Ernst said the department heads’ calendars should be audited at least quarterly.

“Yes, agency heads, we want to know what you’re doing and where you are working from,” Ernst said. “Taxpayers deserve to know who is showing up to work and who is not.”

Department heads are not the only ones missing from their offices, according to Ernst. President Joe Biden was out of office last year “more than any other modern president,” about 40%, she said.

“Unlike most Americans, Biden bureaucrats follow the president’s example of doing business: when, where, how, and if they want to,” Ernst said. “With wars raging and Americans hurting, this administration needs to be all hands on deck. Without a doubt, our national security shouldn’t be managed by a beachside deputy.”

This is not the first time Ernst has questioned the government’s work-from-home policies. In December, she asked the General Services Administrator to evaluate the government’s office space, saying much of it is going unused. Robin Carnahan, the GSA administrator, spends most of her time working from Missouri, Ernst said.

“It should be no surprise to learn GSA has an 11 percent office space utilization rate,” she said.

Ernst called her letter the “January Squeal Letter” and asked Young to respond by Feb. 23.

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