March 19, 2020

Senators Push OPM & OMB to Publish Federal Workforce Guidance, Plan for Continued Services Amid Coronavirus Response

~ Urge increased public information on the services Americans can expect as federal government ramps up teleworking ~

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Mark R. Warner and six of their Senate colleagues in a letter to the Acting Directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) calling on the agencies to post department and agency contingency plans amid the COVID-19 outbreak so that Americans know what services to expect as more federal agencies begin to ramp up teleworking capabilities to mitigate the spread of the virus. In their letter, the Senators stress that publicly posting the information would provide federal employees and contractors with thorough guidance and allow policymakers to ensure proper compliance.

“As the federal government continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, we request that you require departments and agencies to post their continuity of operation (COOP) plans online in an accessible format and central location, unless there are legitimate intelligence or national security reasons not to do so. Making these plans transparent and readily available is key to ensuring that our constituents understand what services are continuing in the midst of the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19. It is also important for federal employees and contractors to understand and properly implement the required mitigation measures and for policymakers to ensure compliance with these measures,” wrote the Senators.

In their letter, the Senators underscore that providing this information publicly would be consistent with the way in which the government handles contingency plans during a government shutdown. Further, publishing the information publicly would provide Congress with greater transparency to ensure compliance.

“Sharing this information publicly would be consistent with how the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has posted department and agency contingency plans for lapses in federal appropriations. Such transparency is critical to give citizens confidence in the government response during this difficult time and assure federal employees and contractors that the government is prioritizing their health and well-being,” they continued.

In addition to Senators Warner and Kaine, the letter was signed by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

The Honorable Michael Rigas

Acting Director

Office of Personnel Management

1900 E Street NW

Washington, DC 20415-1000

 

The Honorable Russell Vought

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Acting Director Rigas and Acting Director Vought: 

As the federal government continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, we request that you require departments and agencies to post their continuity of operation (COOP) plans online in an accessible format and central location, unless there are legitimate intelligence or national security reasons not to do so. Making these plans transparent and readily available is key to ensuring that our constituents understand what services are continuing in the midst of the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19. It is also important for federal employees and contractors to understand and properly implement the required mitigation measures and for policymakers to ensure compliance with these measures.

Sharing this information publicly would be consistent with how the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has posted department and agency contingency plans for lapses in federal appropriations. Such transparency is critical to give citizens confidence in the government response during this difficult time and assure federal employees and contractors that the government is prioritizing their health and well-being.

Maintaining a healthy federal workforce with confidence in the government’s commitment to their welfare is of the utmost importance to us. Thank you in advance for your prompt response and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

 

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