House Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., is asking major Federal agency inspectors general (IG) to examine agency facility re-opening plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he aims to “ensure that Administration officials are cautious and prudent when requiring federal employees and contractors to return to federal office buildings.”

“Federal IGs have played a critical role in overseeing the operations of the federal government throughout the pandemic,” Rep. Connolly said in letters to 24 agency IGs dated June 15. “Your continued oversight is critical to protect the health and safety of our government’s most valuable resource: its federal workforce.”

The congressman asked the IGs to review “whether your department and its managers are employing best practices and existing guidance” when determining whether Federal workers and contractors are required to return to government facilities.

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He asked the IGs to share with the subcommittee their agency facilities re-opening oversight plans.  Those plans, Rep. Connolly said, should cover: best practices for health and safety; whether manager decisions are based on “evidence and research”; baseline metrics on re-opening indicators including the number of employees who contract the coronavirus; assessment of agency access to personal protection equipment and sanitizers; and evaluation of inter-agency cooperation with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, among others.

“Millions of federal employees and contractors will be affected by the Administration’s decisions to return federal employees to federal offices,” Rep. Connolly said. “Our federal workforce has demonstrated that it can continue to work effectively and serve this nation – even in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances. In return, federal management officials must employ the safest procedures in determining whether and when employees should return to their offices.”

“We need to ensure that premature or misguided efforts to return to offices will not undercut efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus and put federal employees and their families in danger,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.