Senate bill would extend full-time federal telework for duration of COVID emergency

videoconference screen (emojoez/ 

A bipartisan Senate bill would extend full-time agency telework, requiring federal agencies to let eligible employees work from home during the COVID-19 emergency.

The Pandemic Federal Telework Act of 2020 is designed to support telework for any federal job that can be done remotely, while providing management and tech support for teleworking employees.

The bill requires special training for federal managers who supervise teleworking employees and also amends the Modernizing Government Technology Act to stipulate that the Technology Modernization Fund can be used for projects designed to support telework.

Additionally, the bill would require the development of a plan to cope with future pandemics and makes the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for determining a public health state of emergency.

Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are sponsoring the legislation. Lankford and Sinema are the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which has oversight of the federal workforce. Lankford and Van Hollen are on the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which includes funding for the Office of Personnel Management.

"The federal government should lead by example and slow the spread of coronavirus by continuing to ensure employees are teleworking," Sinema said in a statement.

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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