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Ernst Calls Bureaucrats to Work as Social Security Admin Ignores Iowans

WASHINGTON – After a whistleblower revealed that the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Sioux City field office was failing to respond to Iowans, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Congressman Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) followed up on her oversight of the impact of federal agency’s telework abuse.

In a message to Ernst, an Organizational Payee whistleblower exposed the Sioux City SSA field office’s habit of ignoring simple requests for weeks and months at a time, denying everyone involved access to answers and assistance, imparting significant delays on beneficiaries, and failing to provide substantive updates.

“Multiple reports have surfaced of Organizational Payees in Iowa experiencing egregious delays with their SSA field office. Alarmingly, the SSA field office in Sioux City, Iowa has established a pattern of ignoring outreach from Organizational Payees entirely,” the lawmakers wrote to the SSA Inspector General (IG).

“As expressed in the previous letter, it is well past time for the federal workforce to return to work at their duty stations. With hybrid and remote working now standard practice for the federal workforce, it is crucial to ensure not one of the more than 677,000 Iowans relying on the SSA for benefits and services annually are being negatively impacted by the arrangement,” the lawmakers continued.

When federal employees largely abandoned their offices to work remotely four years ago at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these essential workers kept showing up to serve the vulnerable, disabled, and elderly. Now, these folks could lose access to those service providers who they rely upon if SSA’s unresponsiveness and delays put them out of business. This situation demands immediate attention, and we cannot tolerate its continuation,” the lawmakers concluded.


Since August 2023, Ernst has been demanding investigations into 24 federal departments and agencies to determine the impact of telework on the delivery and response times of services. In November 2023, the SSA OIG responded to Ernst and subsequently initiated an audit in January 2024 on changes in productivity at the SSA, including human capital and service delivery.

In December 2023, Ernst exposed that, almost four years after COVID-19 temporarily closed federal buildings, not a single government agency was utilizing even half the office space in their headquarters. The SSA headquarters, which recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, tops the list of most underutilized, with just seven percent of its office space being used.