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Romney, Manchin Introduce Bill to Get Federal Workers Back into the Office

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) today introduced the Back to Work Act of 2024bipartisan legislation to require employees of federal agencies to return to in-person work. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in 2023, 17 of 24 federal agency headquarters were operating at an average capacity of 25% less. This legislation would limit telework to no more than 40% of days within an employee’s pay period and require agencies to report to Congress on the productivity of its telework activities.

“It has been nearly a year since President Biden formally ended COVID-19 public health emergency declarations, yet most of our federal office buildings remain empty—wasting millions of taxpayer dollars every day. Americans deserve to have a federal workforce that is both present and productive,” Senator Romney said. “Our bipartisan legislation would require federal employees to work in the office for a majority of the time, while still allowing reasonable flexibility for telework. Federal employees play an important role in ensuring that the government works for the American people, and it is past time for them to get back into the office to do the work that our constituents expect from their government.”

“I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Back to Work Act with Senator Romney to require federal employees to work in-person at least 60% of the time. Federal workers have a unique obligation to connect with the citizens they serve, and exclusively remote work hinders this essential collaboration. Local businesses in West Virginia and across the country are also suffering from a lack of consumer traffic during the work days, which is negatively impacting our local economies. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense legislation that brings our society closer to pre-pandemic normalcy,” said Senator Manchin.

Background:

The Back to Work Act of 2024 would:

  1. Set a general ceiling of 40% of days in a pay period for federal agency telework.
    1. Provide reasonable flexibility for each agency, including allowing waivers for certain types of positions where telework is needed to support agency needs.
  2. Require agencies to monitor the work of employees engaged in telework to ensure they are actually working.
  3. Require agencies to report on their productivity metrics and the potential negative effects of telework on productivity, morale, security vulnerabilities, or waste, fraud, or abuse.