Skip to content

Ernst, Cruz Demand Teleworking Bureaucrats Keep Nation’s Transportation on Track

Our nation’s cars aren’t remote control, and bureaucrats shouldn’t be either.

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are calling on Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General Eric J. Soskin to conduct an independent review to evaluate how telework and remote work impact the agency’s services and subject taxpayers’ money to waste, fraud, and abuse, including at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Ernst is following up on her investigation after the DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG) rejected her demands for an audit into telework abuse at the agency, citing that it would be “premature.” In response, the senators are highlighting the widespread culture of employees not showing up to workand recent examples of FRA employees engaging in payroll fraud at the expense of taxpayers.

“Simply because DOT is phasing in its return to normal operations is no reason to wait to review the reasonableness of its policies. The phased transition also began four years ago; DOT cannot be allowed to escape oversight of its telework practices by never completing implementation of its return to normal operations. This cannot be another scenario where DOT OIG waits ten years to audit the agency’s compliance,” the senators wrote.

“We respectfully request you engage in a comprehensive review of ‘the impact of telework and remote work on the [DOT’s] ability to achieve its mission, deliver quality and timely services, and manage taxpayer money and the DOT workforce.’ This must include a review of both regular telework and ongoing remote work (which persist in headquarters roles, not just traditional field roles), how managers are or are not complying with stated DOT policies, and the daily swipe-in data of employees’ Personal Identification Verification cards at both DOT and FAA headquarters, and other DOT facilities,” the senators continued.

The letter lays out several concerning allegations which demonstrate the concerning and deficient workplace culture within the DOT including:

  • Reports of FAA employees ignoring mandates from leadership requiring they show up to work four days per two-week pay period;
  • Whistleblower complaints describing multiple FAA office spaces as “ghost towns” with 10-30% occupancy rate, allegations which align with the findings of the Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found just 13% of employees showed up for work at the East and West Buildings of the Southeast Federal Center on any given day from January to September 2023; and
  • Previous examples of employment fraud by an FRA employee and allegations by whistleblowers of additional fraud by staff directors and managers including paying employees locality pay designated for Washington, D.C. while they reside in lower-cost areas.

Click here to read the full letter.

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. Following her advocacy, the GSA announced it would downsize 3.5 million square feet of federal buildings, which would save taxpayers over $1 billion.

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.

In April 2024, Ernst and Senator Gary Peters introduced bipartisan legislation increasing transparency of federal telework policies.