Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Ranking Member and Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent letters Sept. 20 to nine federal departments and agencies seeking an explanation as to why they were unable to provide complete information about employee furloughs and back pay for the past three government shutdowns.

In a new report issued Sept. 18 by the subcommittee, investigators found that the combined costs of the past three complete or partial government shutdowns cost American taxpayers nearly $4 billion, including $3.7 billion in back pay for furloughed employees and $338 million in additional costs.

However, certain federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, were unable to estimate the amount of back pay provided to furloughed workers after shutdowns, raising serious concerns about the capacity of those departments and agencies to oversee their operations and implement basic accounting systems and practices. Combined, the nine departments and agencies who received letters employ about half of the federal workforce, meaning that the actual amount that taxpayers paid as a result of the recent government shutdowns is likely much higher due to a greater amount of back pay and additional associated costs.

“Although we appreciated the Department’s cooperation with some aspects of the Subcommittee’s investigation, we are concerned you were unable to provide complete information about employee furloughs and back pay from the last three government shutdowns in response to the Subcommittee’s inquiry,” wrote Carper and Portman. “The inability to provide all of the information we requested raises serious questions about your Department’s ability to perform effective oversight of its operations, and about your Department’s ability to maintain basic accounting systems and practices. As such, we request a briefing by Oct. 3, 2019 from your staff on why the department was unable to provide this information and the specific efforts being taken to address these deficiencies.”

Carper and Portman wrote letters to the following nine departments and agencies that failed to provide full and complete information about employee furloughs and back pay for one or more of the last three shutdowns: the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration and the Small Business Administration.

Read the report at bit.ly/30vSRux.