Lawmakers Want an Executive Order Expanding Telework for the Coronavirus

March 17, 2020 10:06 AM , Updated March 30, 2020 7:44 AM
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A group of Senators sent a letter to President Trump asking him to issue an executive order “directing agencies to use telework to the maximum extent practicable” in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The Senators state in their letter that telework is needed to protect federal employees from the virus, but also because they say there are conflicting guidelines in government currently regarding telework which is causing agencies to ultimately not take any action.

“In the absence of a clear order, agencies and managers have been hesitant to take major actions to shift towards telework…,” wrote the Senators.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget recently issued a memo in which it said telework should be expanded for federal employees who were most at risk for complications from the virus. It then issued a follow up memo in which it said that federal agencies “are asked to offer maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees, consistent with operational needs of the departments and agencies as determined by their heads.”

The Senators’ letter addressed this guidance from OMB and told the president “your order should be a clear direction – rather than general guidance – and it should be worldwide in scope.”

The Office of Personnel Management has also said that telework should be expanded to combat the coronavirus.

Update: House Lawmakers Call for Telework Executive Order

The House quickly followed suit and a group of Congressmen have also asked President Trump to issue an executive order mandating telework for eligible federal employees and contractors.

What do federal employees think?

We asked our readers this week if they think expanding telework is an effective means to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and if their agencies could handle a new and sudden influx of remote workers. So far (as of the time of this writing), the results indicate that most current federal employees who have responded think telework would help with the situation, but are less certain about IT infrastructure and security problems that could arise as a result.

Feel free to weigh in on the issue in the comments and please take the survey to share your input.

Senate Letter Re: Telework and the Coronavirus

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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