During a recent hearing of a subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee, a witness from the Biden administration expertly overcame rhetoric from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) to provide a fuller picture of what the situation she was discussing had actually constituted.
Boebert was speaking with Scott Levins, who currently runs a government agency that handles personnel records, including for individuals who have served in the U.S. military. At that agency, there is currently a significantly sized backlog of requests, though the picture is not entirely dismal and isn’t simply indicative of government just abandoning the situation as Boebert and her line of questioning might suggest. She started asking the official antagonistic questions about the agency’s reliance on remote operations as COVID-19 originally spread.
“So, I want to be thorough,” Levins told Boebert. “First of all, we never closed entirely. We always maintained a skeletal crew there to make sure we handled the most urgent requests such as those involving funerals, medical emergencies, homeless veterans seeking shelter. Throughout the pandemic, as local health conditions improved, we were able to bring additional people into the building. We worked with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to review our building blueprints, our HVAC systems, and inform our leadership on what the safe amount of occupancy in the building was.”
Levins also explained, critically, that the agency then relied on paper records to an even greater extent, making effective remote work especially difficult for reasons other than the laziness that Republicans sometimes insinuate is present. Boebert herself has done this, making odd insinuations in a past hearing about the supposed threat of government staff members using remote work opportunities and then not actually doing, well, work, though it’s not as though remote work, specifically as it’s available to federal employees, is just a free for all in which everybody can do anything they want. The agency that Levins leads is called the National Personnel Records Center and operates as part of the National Archives and Records Administration, aka NARA. Watch Boebert below: