Skip to content

Ernst Exposes Union-Sponsored Telework for Undermining Defense Health Agency’s Mission

Calls for guardrails to ensure bureaucrats are working.

WASHINGTON – After a new union agreement that allows “telework for up to 10 days per pay period,” even though there are 10 days in a pay period, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is not letting bureaucrats undermine the mission of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Health Agency (DHA).

In the letter, she points out that, in Fiscal Year 2019, DoD spent more than $21 million dollars on taxpayer-funded union time and that the unions billed an additional $8.4 million in government property and expenses. She is calling for guardrails to be put into place to ensure bureaucrats are working on taxpayer-funded time.

“Time and again, when federal employees are permitted excessive telework without guardrails, it results in slower services for those the agency was created to support. Our servicemembers deserve nothing less than the most efficient and effective processes to get what they need. Prioritizing those who don’t want to show up to work over the health care of our servicemembers is disgraceful and unacceptable,” Ernst wrote.

She’s demanding answers to how much taxpayer-funded union time was spent negotiating this sweetheart deal that fights returning to the office, the average daily occupancy rate of the DHA, what steps the DHA is taking to monitor and verify locality-based compensation for teleworking employees, and what IT information is being used to ensure teleworking employees are actually working.


In March, Ernst introduced the Taxpayer-Funded Union Time Transparency Act to track the total amount taxpayers are subsidizing federal employee unions.

She continued her work to prevent bureaucrats working on behalf of themselves while secretly billing taxpayers for union activities after Department of Labor employees gathered at work earlier this year to protest their “right to work remotely.” 

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.