WASHINGTON — Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) opened today’s hearing on the future of the federal workforce by emphasizing how federal workforce policies under the Biden Administration are a platform for a left-wing agenda. He noted that Democrats continue to push the formation of public sector unions and lavish perks, such as increased pay, leave, and teleworking. Subcommittee Ranking Member Hice highlighted his work to reduce the amount of time federal employees spend on union activities and championed the need for them to carry out the jobs they were hired to do. The federal government should lead by example, and he explained how agency performance has cratered under the Biden Administration. He concluded by stressing the importance of ensuring accountability and meaningful oversight over the federal workforce.
Below is Subcommittee Ranking Member Hice’s remarks as prepared:
Thank you, Chairman Connolly for calling this hearing.
And thank you for asking the OPM administrator and OMB deputy director for management to testify.
This has been an all-to-infrequent occurrence this Congress.
As was the case when the IRS Commissioner was here, I appreciate the chance to ask questions about administration policies directly to those responsible for them.
Today’s hearing is supposed to focus on the future of the federal workforce.
Of how to make the federal government a “model employer.”
Too often, “model employer” is just a catchphrase for treating federal workers like a privileged, protected class.
I reviewed the testimony for today, and the Biden federal workforce policies are just a platform for a left-wing agenda.
The emphasis is on creating more perks for feds – increasing their pay, shielding them from accountability and promoting public sector unions.
Raising the minimum wage for federal employees – who has to pay that?
The American people.
And the Biden administration never misses an opportunity to promote unions.
Jobs are not good unless they are “good-quality union jobs.”
And in federal agencies, unions are front and center.
Since I came to Congress, I have fought to reduce the amount of time federal employees spend on union activities.
To do the jobs they were actually hired to do.
Federal employees are here to serve the public – not organized labor.
I have fought – through my Accountable Feds Act, for example – to make sure that federal employees are indeed accountable.
So they can face discipline or removal if their performance warrants it.
But to the Biden Administration, it is more important to create a knot of process and obstacles designed to ensure it is just too difficult to deal with poor performers.
I support Schedule F – which ensures federal employees cannot thwart the policies the American people voted for if they do not happen to agree.
These are valid concerns, but Democrats dismiss them.
As we look at retention and recruitment challenges, we should not forget talented workers do not want a career picking up the slack for poor performers.
The Biden Administration has also moved to expand alternative working arrangements – telework and remote work – permanently.
Never mind there was no assessment of how telework impacted agency performance.
Never mind that in his State of the Union, President Biden said the federal government would lead by example and that federal workers would soon be back in the office.
They are still not back.
When Ranking Member Comer and I wrote asking when feds would return, OPM stated federal employees would continue in a mix of in-office and telework arrangements.
So, what changed after the State of the Union?
It does not sound like anything.
We heard from our constituents.
They could not get services from agencies like VA or Social Security, because feds were not in the office.
It is a matter of good government to have a grasp on the real and potential impacts before making telework permanent.
And how do we know OPM has the ability, or the intent, to monitor compliance with telework policies.
How will we know whether workers have been scattered to the four winds with no intention of returning, yet continue to draw locality pay from high-cost areas?
Finally, OPM Director Ahuja says all employees should be treated with dignity and respect.
But are federal workers still subjected to hostile work environments under the guise of racial sensitivity training?
I do have concerns, but there are areas of agreement.
I support more skills-based hiring as embodied in my Chance to Compete Act.
OPM and Chairman Connolly share this view.
I also believe we should make military spouses a focus of federal hiring efforts.
But federal workforce issues cannot be a one-sided conversation.
There has to be accountability and oversight, not just extra perks, pay and protection.
After all, the federal workforce exists to serve the American people.
The American people do not exist to serve the federal workforce.
I yield back.