Contractors parking in Energy Dept. HQ to steer clear of Metro
- By Mark Rockwell
- Mar 20, 2020
The Department of Energy opened up parking spaces at its headquarters building to accommodate contractors, now that many full time employees are teleworking.
Parking at the agency's Forrestal Building near the National Mall has traditionally been tight, with struggles over the years about who is allowed to use the facility. The1960s era facility on Independence Ave in Washington D.C., originally built for the Defense Department, has an underground parking garage that has been traditionally off-limits to contractor cars, unless they carpool with at least two official department employees.
Contractors outnumber federal employees throughout DOE's sprawling national operations, by almost seven to one, according to Performance.gov. The agency has about 14,000 employees and 95,000 management and operations contractors working in its headquarters building and 83 field locations across the country, it said.
The agency said on March 18, that it would allow contractors to use the facility "effective immediately," allowing contractors to buy up to 15 $5 daily parking passes per month.
A source familiar with the contractor parking issue told FCW one of the motivations for opening up headquarters parking to contractors was to limit possible exposure to COVID-19 on the Washington-area Metro mass transit system which is also paring down service.
DOE is increasingly giving its employees more flexibility in how they're working, and is thinking about setting up staggered work hours to relieve pressure on its networks.
During a March 17 ACT IAC virtual event, Melody Bell, associate deputy assistant secretary for resource management at the DOE's Office of Environmental Management, said with the intense focus on telework, federal agencies are quickly learning that they have to become more flexible with remote and data-sharing tools, as well as to adapt to physical limitations, she said.
Bell said DOE is adjusting its telework practices in response to on-the-ground use.
Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
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