Tuesday, July 9, 2024

ICYMI: ‘Taxpayer theft’: Federal Agencies Overpay Teleworkers Who Moved Out of Washington; Scathing Audit Reveals 23% of Federal Workers Overpaid at Department of Commerce Costing Taxpayers Thousands

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
‘Taxpayer theft’: Federal agencies overpay teleworkers who moved out of Washington:
Federal employees approved for telework have been bilking the government by collecting Washington-area pay rates while living in much lower-cost regions.
Inspectors general for the Commerce Department and the Architect of the Capitol, a congressional office, found that a significant percentage of their employees approved for telework were collecting salaries with locality pay rates higher than where they are now living.
Nearly 1 in 4 telework employees sampled in the Commerce Department audit were overpaid, collecting as much as $10,000 in income they didn’t deserve.
Meanwhile, the Architect of the Capitol showed a stunning 68% overpayment rate for telework employees.
Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, has been prodding agencies to conduct these reviews after the growth of telework since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She worries that taxpayers are being hit from both sides, with employees getting paid too much for too little remote work as the government pays for the empty buildings where their offices used to be.
“Bureaucrats not showing up to work are being overpaid and avoiding accountability,” Ms. Ernst’s office said in releasing the Commerce Department audit.
She called it “taxpayer theft.”
The overpayments stem from the way federal pay works.
The federal government divides the country into nearly 60 regions. Salaries are adjusted based on work location.
On the federal pay scale, an employee in Virginia Beach who is at GS-9, step one, made roughly $7,000 less than a similar employee in the Washington area last year. A GS-13 step one employee made about $12,000 more by working in the Washington area. --->READ MORE HERE
Scathing audit reveals 23% of federal workers overpaid at Department of Commerce costing taxpayers thousands:
Federal teleworkers have been handsomely overpaid for falsely claiming they live in expensive metropolitan areas while they really reside in smaller, less pricey locations.
An audit prompted by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, revealed exclusively to DailyMail.com, shows that 23 percent of Department of Commerce employees sampled lied about where they lived to receive higher locality pay than they deserve.
The scathing report from the agency's inspector general found that a quarter of the department's employees investigated got unfairly boosted pay, costing taxpayers an additional $6,100 per overpaid teleworker on average.
And according to Ernst, the agency is refusing to clawback the undeserved funds.
'Just as I thought, Biden’s bureaucrats are overpaid and underworked, while the American people are overworked and overtaxed,' Ernst told DailyMail.com in a statement.
One employee probed, for instance, was overpaid by over $10,000, according to the findings of the audit.
'How can the Department of Commerce claim they are competent enough to direct our nation’s economic growth and job creation if they can’t even be responsible for keeping track of where their own employees are, what they are being paid, or what they are doing?' Ernst continued.
'Regardless, these wasted funds are taxpayer theft. I will continue demanding agencies take responsibility and foot the bill for these fat cat bureaucrats, so this excess can go back in the pockets of the American people.'
The excess salaries received by these Department of Commerce officials results from employees who failed to update their locality pay.
In the sample of employees probed by the agency's inspector general, 23 percent had moved to areas with lower pay rates but still raked in higher salaries designated for workers living in higher cost areas.
Adding insult to injury, the department is saying they cannot recoup the overpayments because they lack the processes to do so. --->READ MORE HERE
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