Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Lessons Learned from Remote Working during COVID-19: Can the Government Save Money Through Maximizing Efficient Use of Leased Space?” 

The hearing featured testimony from Mark Pringle, senior vice president of Corporate Real Estate, Global Facilities and Environment, Health, and Safety at Dell Technologies; Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics; and Dr. Michael Benjamin, chief of Air Quality Planning and Science Division at the California Air Resources Board.

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“In just the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended our everyday way of life. 

“One of the most sudden, stark, and significant transitions has been in the way all of us work. 

“Millions of Americans have been unable to go to the office each day. 

“As a result, we have had to find a way to get our jobs done and keep our economy going.

“The financial hit to small and larger businesses has been devastating during this crisis. 

“Reducing expenses is increasingly important for individuals, and businesses, as the country struggles with the unexpected costs of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Such cost savings are likely to persist after the pandemic. 

“Nearly one in five private sector chief financial officers plans to keep at least 20 percent of their workforce working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic ends in order to cut costs. 

“I believe the federal government should also be looking for opportunities to save taxpayer money, wherever and whenever possible. 

“The private sector is leading the way in reducing expenses. 

“In recent years, private-sector companies have consolidated and reduced their real estate footprint in order to save money.

“They have been able to do this because modern telecommunications technologies have enabled them to adopt remote work options and other flexible work strategies. 

“By 2016, Dell Technologies had already shifted one-quarter of its employees to ‘work from home’ either full-time or a few days a week. 

“Dell Technologies was able to consolidate office space, reduce square footage, and implement more flexible workspace strategies – saving roughly $12 million each year. 

“American Express has saved up to $15 million annually on real estate costs through flexible work options. 

“Aetna provides flexible workspace and ‘work from home’ options for 47 percent of its employees, decreasing its need for office space by 2.7 million square feet and saving the company $78 million dollars each year. 

“On the federal side, the General Services Administration, the ‘GSA,’ is the most advanced agency in the federal government pursuing remote work options and other innovative work strategies. 

“GSA’s Total Workplace program improves the use of office space through various workplace strategies. 

“These include enabling and supporting mobile work, reconfiguring support spaces, desk-sharing, and shifting from traditional office space to more flexible open-plan workplace environments. 

“A top priority of GSA is to maximize the use of owned federal space, eliminate costly lease arrangements, and dispose of underutilized assets. 

“GSA has decreased the square footage of its own usable office space by 32 percent. 

“It has cut its operations and maintenance costs by $10 million in the last four years.

“The Office of Personnel Management reported to Congress that over 900,000 federal employees were eligible to telework in fiscal year 2018. 

“That was 42 percent of all federal employees. 

“The consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics determined that if all federal employees eligible for telework had telecommuted half of the time, the federal government could reduce its need for office space by 25 percent.  

“Taxpayers could save $1.75 billion dollars in real estate costs alone, and over $11 billion in total costs. 

“Through such telework, federal employees would also save on personal expenditures, such as food, commuting, gas, and dry cleaning.

“Today’s hearing is an opportunity to examine how the lessons the private sector has learned about cost savings from telework can be translated to the federal government. 

“These lessons will allow the government to reduce its footprint and save the American taxpayer money. 

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.”