Federal Manager's Daily Report

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OMB has urged agencies to allow telework to the “maximum” extent by their employees in the Washington, D.C. area in response to the Coronavirus, with follow-up guidance from the White House later extending that message to other locations where there is a community spread of the virus.

An OMB memo issued Sunday says that for operations in the D.C. area, 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.”

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That was followed on Monday by guidance sent through the President’s Management Council extending the same principles to other communities where special containment steps have been taken such as closing schools.

Under the memo for the national capital area—and by extension, for those other areas—agencies further are encouraged “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, even for employees not having conditions that the CDC has determined put them at higher risk. Those at higher risk, as referenced in a memo issued late last week encouraging telework in general and especially for those meeting that definition, include those with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, as well as pregnant women.

Adds the memo, “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).”

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