Fedweek

Overall about 10 Cabinet departments and major independent agencies now have publicly announced reentry plans that differ in details including timing and the planned mix of onsite and offsite work by their employees who have been in maximum telework status for the last two years. Image: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock.com

As federal agencies continue to announce further “reentry” plans for returning teleworkers to onsite work, they meanwhile are trying to manage both their workflows and the public’s expectations for in-person service.

That has been the case with two agencies, the IRS and SSA, that have faced especially high pressure from the public and Congress — mainly, but not all, from Republicans — restore in person services to pre-pandemic levels.

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The SSA this week asked the public for patience—and to continue using remote services—during its expansion of in-person services at its local offices, which includes making such services available as of April 7 without an appointment. “Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices,” acting commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said.

“To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people who can, to use our online services, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment. Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service,” she said.

Similarly the IRS, in announcing that many of its taxpayer assistance centers would be open April 9 with no appointment needed for help with filing tax returns, also meanwhile pointed taxpayers to its online and phone services and cautioned that in-person services on some topics will not be available in all participating offices.

Both also noted that in-person visitors will have to comply with mask-wearing, social distancing and other safety requirements applying locally, some of which will differ by local levels of Coronavirus infections.

Overall about 10 Cabinet departments and major independent agencies now have publicly announced reentry plans that differ in details including timing and the planned mix of onsite and offsite work by their employees who have been in maximum telework status for the last two years.

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