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Hice: Biden’s Border Crisis Expanding to Federal Workforce

WASHINGTON—Today, Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) wrote to U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan regarding the deployment of volunteer federal employees to assist the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services in caring for unaccompanied alien children (UACs) coming to the southern border as a result of the Biden Border Crisis. Ranking Member Hice is requesting information from OPM about the impact the border crisis is having on the federal workforce.

“President Biden created the crisis on the border on day one of his presidency and now he’s mismanaging the federal workforce to address it. The Biden Administration needs to implement deterrence policies to prevent unaccompanied minors from risking their lives to come here, but instead they’re sending federal employees with little to no training to care for children in these types of situations. These deployments will undoubtedly harm agencies’ ability to accomplish their mission and serve the  American people, and the Government Operations Subcommittee needs to know the extent of their impact. I look forward to hearing from OPM about this critical matter,” said Ranking Member Hice.  

The letter is available here and below.  

April 21, 2021

Kathleen M. McGettigan
Acting Director
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Washington D.C. 20415

Dear Acting Director McGettigan:

I am writing to request information on the impact the current border crisis is having on the U.S. federal workforce.  There is nothing seasonal about the current crisis on the southwest border, particularly in the case of the increasing numbers of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) being smuggled into the country.  Due to the unprecedented influx of UAC encountered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and referred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HHS is currently caring for over 20,000 UACs, a record. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has even been activated to attend to the crisis.

To expand its capacity to accept UAC from DHS, where thousands of children have been languishing for days awaiting placements, HHS has had to open twelve emergency intake sites since February 22, which it operates in addition to licensed facilities throughout the country.  This effort to care for the UAC in government custody is estimated to cost approximately $60 million per week, with costs expected to increase as more children arrive.

To meet the need for additional staff and resources, HHS solicited volunteers from across the federal government.  On March 25, 2021, OPM put out a request for volunteers from across the federal government to serve up to 120-day deployment details to HHS to assist with caring for UAC.  In the memorandum to Department and Agency heads, you stated that “[d]etails will involve contact with migrant children and a variety of other federal and non-federal entities, possibly including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), American Red Cross, [FEMA], and other HHS employees.” 

To assist the subcommittee in exercising important oversight of the situation on the southwest border and to understand the impact the border crisis is having on the federal workforce overall, please provide the following information no later than May 5, 2021:

  1. The total number of federal employees who have volunteered for a reimbursable detail with HHS as outlined in the March 25, 2021 memorandum, disaggregated by federal agency/department, permanent job title, and expected length of detail.
  2. All documents and communications containing an analysis of the impact of such details on the sending agencies/departments and performance of the volunteer’s original duties.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.  To make arrangements to deliver documents or ask any related follow-up questions, please contact Committee on Oversight and Reform Republican Staff at (202) 225-5074.  The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the principal oversight committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time” under House Rule X.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this inquiry.

Sincerely

Jody Hice
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Government Operations

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Author: Amy Hasenberg

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