Federal Agencies Remain Open in DC, OMB Urges ‘Maximum Telework Flexibilities’

March 16, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The Office of Management and Budget on Sunday asked federal agencies in and around the nation’s capitol to offer telework to all eligible employees, the latest in the government’s evolving steps to deal with the coronavirus.

In a memo sent to all agency and department heads Sunday night, acting OMB Director Russell Vought said, “We encourage agencies to use all existing authorities to offer telework to additional employees, to the extent their work could be telework enabled.”

 “If employees are not eligible for telework, agency heads have the discretion to offer weather and safety leave, or the agency’s equivalent, including for employees who may not have been considered ‘at higher risk,’” he said.

Although Vought’s memo was only advisory in nature, and not a directive, it triggered an accompanying operating status change from the Office of Personnel Management.

The government’s operating status in Washington and the surrounding area went from “green” to “yellow,” indicating that federal offices were open but with “maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees, pursuant to direction from agency heads.”

“Please contact your supervisor to confirm the telework schedule and to receive further direction from your agency head. If you are not telework eligible or do not have access to telework equipment, please contact your supervisor to discuss next steps,” the office says.

OMB’s Sunday night memo comes on the heels of separate guidance the agency issued Thursday, which instructed all departments to use telework for federal employees at “higher risk” for the coronavirus.

These include older workers and those with underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or compromised immune systems.

Though it suggests a heightened level of concern, Vought’s memo nevertheless still leaves telework up to each agency’s discretion, “consistent with operational needs of the departments and agencies as determined by their heads.”

Also on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to lawmakers in the chamber, reminding them that the health and safety of congressional staff is essential to fulfilling their mission to serve their constituents.

“In bipartisan consultation with the Attending Physician and the Sergeant at Arms, and out of an abundance of caution, I am writing to encourage you to take steps to promote social distancing within your Washington, D.C. office as we engage in the District Work Period,” Pelosi said.  “This may entail more than half of your Washington staff teleworking from home.”  

For guidance, the Speaker encouraged members to consult this link on telecommuting policies from the Committee on House Administration.  

She also encouraged them  to consult the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control for further information on preventing the spread of coronavirus.  

“As this public health emergency develops, the House will continue to take strong, strategic and science-based action to keep the American people safe and ensure the continuity of Congressional operations,” Pelosi said.

Health

Utah Secures 500,000 Face Masks in Anticipation of Reopening Schools
State News
Utah Secures 500,000 Face Masks in Anticipation of Reopening Schools
July 7, 2020
by Jacob Pederson

The Utah Board of Education has received a shipment of 500,000 face masks it plans to distribute to students and teachers as they return to school in the fall. The collection of masks is the latest manifestation of Gov. Gary Herbert’s Masks for Every Utahn Program,... Read More

NewDEAL Forum Launches Task Force to Address Rebuilding the Country Following COVID-19
Economy
NewDEAL Forum Launches Task Force to Address Rebuilding the Country Following COVID-19
July 7, 2020
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON – The NewDEAL Forum has established a task force comprised of state and local officials to devise recommendations on a sustainable recovery from the coronavirus outbreak. The Renewing America Task Force will be led by five Democratic co-chairs including Phoenix, Ariz., Mayor Kate Gallego; Michigan... Read More

Coronavirus Outbreak Hits Mississippi Legislature As Cases Surge Across State
State News
Coronavirus Outbreak Hits Mississippi Legislature As Cases Surge Across State
July 7, 2020
by Gaspard Le Dem

Health officials are investigating a COVID-19 outbreak in Mississippi's state legislature after several lawmakers tested positive for coronavirus last week. House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, announced on Sunday that he had contracted the virus after coming into contact with another member of the state’s lower... Read More

Trump Support Withering in Areas Where Virus Cases Are Rising
2020 Elections
Trump Support Withering in Areas Where Virus Cases Are Rising

Coronavirus is skyrocketing in Republican-leaning Sunbelt and interior states, where shifting attitudes about the virus and President Donald Trump’s handling of it could spell more trouble for his re-election effort. New cases have exploded in particular in Arizona and Florida, battlegrounds Trump must retain to win... Read More

Blue Dogs Push Bill To Crack Down On Chinese Efforts to ‘Exploit’ Pandemic
Foreign Affairs
Blue Dogs Push Bill To Crack Down On Chinese Efforts to ‘Exploit’ Pandemic
July 6, 2020
by Gaspard Le Dem

WASHINGTON - A group of moderate House Democrats wants the U.S. government to track down potential attempts by the Chinese government to use the coronavirus crisis to its advantage. The Blue Dog Coalition, an alliance of 26 centrist lawmakers, introduced a bill on Thursday requiring U.S.... Read More

World Health Organization Reports New Global Record for Coronavirus Cases
Health
World Health Organization Reports New Global Record for Coronavirus Cases

The global number of coronavirus cases reported on Saturday was highest on record, according to the World Health Organization. Cases rose by 212,326 in 24 hours, with the United States, Brazil and India showing the largest increases. The previous record of 190,566 was set on June... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top