White House rolls out operational pivot to manage pandemic

Coronavirus COVID-19 under the microscope. 3d illustration By Andrii Vodolazhskyi shutterstock ID: 1643947495 

The federal government is assuming a new operational footing designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Federal agencies are being asked to realign non-mission critical activities and minimize face-to-face interactions with the general public to reduce coronavirus transmission.

Russell T. Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, alerted agency heads to the new "operational alignment" in a memo released the evening of March 17.

Within 48 hours, federal agencies are required to begin putting in place new risk-based procedures based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to safeguard federal employees and impede coronavirus transmission.

Agencies will be asked to maximize telework and possibly make it mandatory in certain cases for federal employees. Agencies are also directed to extend telework to contractors where possible. Additionally, agencies are asked to identify and reduce activities and services that are not mission critical.

"Non-mission-critical functions that cannot be performed remotely or that require in-person interactions may be postponed or significantly curtailed," the agency states. "Agency heads have flexibility to realign individuals or work units to higher priority activities."

The government is especially looking to minimize in-person interactions with vulnerable populations. Already, the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service have announced a suspension of some face-to-face services. More such announcements from public-facing federal agencies are likely to follow.

Exceptions are planned for critical public health, law enforcement and the courts.

This article will be updated with additional information and reaction as it becomes available.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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