OMB Tells Agencies to Limit In-Person Contact, Maximize Telework to Combat Coronavirus

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By on March 18, 2020 in Human Resources with 0 Comments
Concept of SARS-CoV-2 or 2019-ncov coronavirus

The White House Office of Management and Budget has issued yet another memo for federal agencies to address the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This memo tell agencies “to minimize face-to-face interactions, especially at those offices or sites where people may be gathering in close proximity or where highly vulnerable populations obtain services.”

It notes, however, that exceptions may be needed to protect public health and safety, such as for law enforcement.

The memo also states, “Non-mission-critical functions that cannot be performed remotely or that require in-person interactions may be postponed or significantly curtailed. Agency heads have flexibility to realign individuals or work units to higher priority activities.”

Telework is again stressed in the memo as an effective tool to fight the spread of the virus. It says that it should be maximized nationwide and mandated if necessary while maintaining mission-critical workforce needs.

Regarding telework, the memo also states that agencies should “Assess professional services and labor contracts to extend telework flexibilities to contract workers wherever feasible.”

Agency Action Items

The OMB memo goes on to direct agencies to do the following:

  • Within 48 hours of the issuance of this Memorandum, all agencies must review, modify, and begin implementing risk-based policies and procedures based on CDC guidance and legal advice, as necessary to safeguard the health and safety of Federal workplaces to restrict the transmission of COVID-19.
  • As previously directed by the Office of Management and Budget (0MB), agency heads shall review and modify operations that maximize resources and functional areas to deliver mission-critical functions and other Government services safely and efficiently, incorporating the above factors. Agencies shall work closely with their leads for COOP to fully leverage agencies’ authorities to execute their missions during the pandemic.

A copy of the memo is included below.

Federal Agency Operational Alignment to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus COVID-19

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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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