The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it is working to re-open agency offices in accordance with Phase 1 of the White House’s Opening Up America Again plan, although office re-opening schedules are expected to vary based on a number of factors.

“Department of Homeland Security leadership recently released guidance to Components regarding employees’ phased return to the office,” a DHS spokesperson said. “The guidance is consistent with the guidelines outlined in Phase 1 of the Opening Up America Again plan.”

Phase 1 in the Opening Up America Again plan includes having agencies encourage telework, return employees to work in phases, close common areas at offices, minimize non-essential travel, and give strong consideration to special accommodations for vulnerable populations.

According to the spokesperson, DHS leadership released guidance with a phased return to offices – including DHS Headquarters – but is still encouraging the use of maximum telework where possible.

“For offices that require employees to physically be present, leadership has been asked to enforce social distancing protocols, close common areas, and minimize non-essential travel,” the spokesperson said. “DHS leadership will continue to prioritize the safety of our workforce while also ensuring our critical mission is fulfilled.”

Reopening dates of offices will vary widely for DHS, depending on mission, geographic location, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local government operating decisions. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS, for example, began reopening offices on June 4 to resume in-person services such as naturalization ceremonies and interviews.

DHS leadership is continuing to work with individual offices and supervisors to address factors related to returning to the office, including safety and public health factors, public transportation availability, child care, and ability to clean workspaces and socially distance at the office.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.