Empty suit, empty suites: Joe Biden's government of empty buildings
We often ask who's running the government with a White House led by doddering Joe Biden.
But with a new audit out, maybe the real question is what is the government.
According to the Washington Examiner:
The evacuation of federal headquarters during the COVID-19 crisis appears to have become permanent and costly with up to 90% of several agency headquarters empty, according to a federal audit.
At least 6 of 24 Washington area headquarters are 90% empty, including several that manage federal office space and employees such as the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management.
The audit from the Government Accountability Office found that just six agencies were operating with half of their staff in the office during the first three months of 2023, the latest sign that efforts to get federal employees back into the office after the coronavirus crisis and after years of encouraging telework have failed.
The findings echo private sector reports. In Washington, private offices are less than 40% full.
Turns out the government buildings Joe Biden presides over in his expensive, bloated government are about as empty as the old dotard's head.
It's like we have a pretend president, presiding over a pretend government.
Practically every agency headquarters is something like 80% empty.
But the empty buildings still stand, as if to suggest that something had been there. Mainly, it's the illusion of power and importance.
Overall, Uncle Sam owns or leases 511 million square feet. That includes some 1,500 buildings and 7,685 leases. It costs $7 billion a year to maintain buildings and lease others, said GAO.
The auditing agency urged headquarters to consider consolidating or dumping space and to even consider joining with other agencies to share space.
But many rejected that advice. "One official said their leadership is reluctant to share headquarters space with other agencies because it could lower their perceived standing as a cabinet-level agency," said the audit report.
One thing the audit also notes is that these empty buildings waste a lot of electricity even with no one in them. So as Joe Biden tries to shove us into green vehicles and pay more at the pump to bankroll his energy transition, he's busy burning electricity...on nothing.
The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial on the matter, has noted that even the worst empty building problems in the private sector, such as vacant office towers in big blue-run cities, are dwarfed by the emptiness of the federal government buildings.
The near-uniform emptiness across different agencies is another way the government stands out. Weekly attendance in the bottom quarter of surveyed offices is a measly 9%, and not one reported attendance above 50%. Compare that with corporate offices in New York, where average in-office attendance surpassed 50% last month, according to turnstile operator Kastle Systems.
The question is, why are we paying for this? If the federal government can't get its post-COVID pandemic-era employees to come back to the office, then it's time for layoffs. If the government can function as it does on 20% of its people, then maybe it's time to lay the other 80% off.
The Journal notes that Congress does have a law for getting rid of empty government office space and recovering the expense for taxpayers:
The Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016 mandates that the executive branch create and carry out annual plans to reduce its unused space. The law was passed by a GOP Congress and signed by President Obama, but it has spurred little action. The GAO report says the law has "improved the focus on real property management," yet concedes that "federal agencies continue to have unneeded space."
House Republicans seeking a small victory could demand that the Office of Management and Budget enforce the law and help federal agencies shed some of their extra space. The merits of working from home may be up for debate, but there's no need to fund empty offices from the public purse.
That should be a good project for the House and Senate.
Already, we know that at least some of them are trying to get something done.
Recall, for instance, that back in March, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana grilled Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra on why the parking lots were so empty at 10:30 A.M. on a weekday at many of his agency's offices, which I wrote about here:
"How many are at their desk as opposed to being at home, or someplace else, the coffee shop or whatever?" Cassidy asked Becerra, after the cabinet secretary said that the department's employees were working full time.
"What we make sure we care about is that they're performing and they're delivering," Becerra said.
There was a whiff of what the problem here was in that answer, as Becerra kept gaslighting Cassidy about all his employees performing their jobs well.
Obviously, these characters view the big buildings with their agencies' names on them as proxies for their own power and importance. That will make getting rid of these costly hulks and husks all the harder.
But they do need to get rid of them, if for nothing else, then to save the taxpayers' money. The federal government is already overspending us into inflation, and that activity has consequences. Cutting the fat in government, and shedding the excess buildings, is probably the only way to restore our economy to health. This situation is not a sign of national vigor, or growth, or anything positive — and you can bet that nations such as China and Russia are taking note.
Congress should tell these agencies they can finance themselves through selling their excess buildings that their employees won't work in and getting rid of those who aren't showing up to work, because they aren't going to hand them another dime until they do.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.