Apr 22 2020

OPM and OMB Give Feds Guidance on Returning to Offices

Federal offices can reopen consistent with local conditions, according to the latest guidance to agencies.

The Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management gave agencies guidance on how and when they can gradually resume normal operations and shift away from massive telework deployments in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The guidance, issued in a memo from OMB and OPM on April 20, reflects the wider national guidelines the White House released late last week, “which charged individual states with meeting certain ‘gating criteria’ before reopening the local economy in phases,” Federal News Network reports

“State and regional assessments should be the starting point for discussions and decisions” related to agency operations, the guidance notes. However, other factors may include school and daycare closures, mass transit availability, parking availability, facility requirements, and agency missions.

When it comes to agencies’ use of telework technologies and solutions, the guidance notes that agency heads “maintain the flexibility to develop and continue to use appropriate telework protocols for their operations.” 

As conditions change, agency leaders “should revisit telework policies and agreements in order to continue progressing to normal operations or address changing conditions while retaining the needed flexibility during the response.”

Until agencies have resumed normal operations and risk is minimal, all agencies are “encouraged to maximize telework flexibilities to all eligible workers within those populations” that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as being at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19, the guidance states. 

“Given the diversity of Federal workforce missions, geographic locations and the needs of individuals within the workforce itself, this transition will require continued diligence and flexibility from Federal agencies and the Federal workforce,” the guidance says. “Federal agencies are held to a high standard for continuing operations and services to the American public. To this end, agency leaders must continue to ensure continuity in delivery of Federal government services, protect the health and safety of the Federal workforce, and provide Federal government leadership and momentum as an impetus toward a broader national return to normalcy.”

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