WASHINGTON — After self-quarantining himself for the coronavirus recently, Rep. Don Beyer said in a tweet that he is reaching out to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to encourage the agency to allow federal workers to work from home, and provide much-needed guidance of how to do so.
OPM, which manages the government's civilian workforce, has not mandated that federal workers work from home. And guidance for federal workers on how to telework has been tricky and limited information has been provided by a variety of agencies.
But that may soon change after the White House said it is, "encouraging (federal) agencies to exercise maximum telework flexibilities for their employees while still allowing for mission-critical activities to continue."
Many federal employees still have no guidance about showing up at work on Monday, according to WUSA9's Adam Longo. Sources he talked to with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) believe they have to show up to work Monday.
Federal workers teleworking may be encouraged now that information was sent down through the White House, but two U.S. Congressmen from Virginia are highlighting what they believe is a lack of communication and guidance that has been sent out about teleworking. Specifically, how these workers will telework.
Virginia congressman, Rep. Gerry Connolly, said a lack of communication with federal employees about a telework directive is "political malpractice by the Trump Administration."
Some agencies have sent out information and communicated thoroughly with their employees. One of these is the National Air and Space Association (NASA), with one employee saying in a tweet that the company has reached out multiple times via email about teleworking.
While OPM hasn't said much itself about teleworking, and other agency workers work for specific others, while some have gotten information on how to telework, the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) released a statement.
OBM has also told its department heads to enforce more teleworking for its employees. The agency tweeted out this information after WUSA9 reached out Sunday to see what the agency was communicating to its employees.
Below is the statement from OBM that says it wants maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees:
"In light of the evolving situation concerning the coronavirus ("COVID-19") and the National Capitol Region (NCR) experiencing community transmission, the Administration wants to ensure that department and agency leaders assertively safeguard the health and safety of their workforce while remaining open to serve the American people and conduct mission critical functions. All Federal executive branch departments and agencies within the National Capital Region (NCR), consistent with OMB's recent guidance (0MB M-20-13), 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. In addition, 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" under 0MB M-20- 13. Furthermore, agency heads should develop an operational plan that maximizes resources and functional areas to most safely and efficiently deliver these mission-critical functions and other Government services (including but not limited to staggered work schedules and other operational mitigation measures). We encourage agencies to consult with current CDC operating guidance." — Russell T. Vought