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Ernst to SBA Inspector General: Investigate Telework Abuse

A new report reaffirms that SBA remains a ghost town.

WASHINGTON – After the head of Biden’s Small Business Administration (SBA) fumbled over her agency’s ongoing telework abuses, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, is calling for the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to launch a new investigation.

Ernst is joined in this effort by her fellow Small Business Committee members, Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

In March, Ernst slammed SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman for requesting more money for an agency that is actively failing to respond to numerous inquiries from Congress and whose offices are often deserted. Guzman testified that she disagrees with the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) finding that SBA is among the very worst federal agencies in terms of remote work, with just 9 percent of employees in the office.  She claimed “[her] data does not match” the GAO’s findings, instead asserting SBA headquarters’ “occupancy rate”—not its utilization rate—is 50 percent, most likely based on the SBA’s stated in-office work policies. However, a new report reaffirms that GAO was correct and shows that merely 209 people are working in person at the SBA on any given day.

The lawmakers write: “Administrator Guzman’s disagreement with the GAO underlines the importance of your office engaging in the comprehensive reviews, audits, and evaluations of the SBA’s policies as requested in the August 28, 2023 letter. That request is particularly necessary in light of the new reporting requirements enacted as part of Division B of P.L. 118-47, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024, which requires each agency to report the average number and percent of employees present in the office, as well as the average office space utilization rate.”

“We request your office assess the SBA’s office space utilization as part of your role in providing independent, objective, and timely oversight of the SBA. In addition, we request you not limit your review merely to the SBA’s headquarters and its Washington, D.C.-based employees, but also review the agency’s footprint and workforce in its field offices across the country.”

Read the letter here.


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 General Services Administration announced it would downsize 3.5 million square feet of federal buildings, saving 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.