Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., along with 56 other House members, pressed ahead today with a demand to President Trump for an executive order mandating telework for all eligible Federal employees and contractors.

While the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) late on March 17 instructed agencies to “maximize telework across the nation for the Federal workforce,” and to extend telework to government contract workers “whenever feasible,” Rep. Connolly said today that guidance does not go far enough.

In a March 17 letter to the President, the members of Congress said the executive order they want would protect the workforce and help curtail the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. A White House order, they said, would cover the Federal government’s 2.1 million employees worldwide, and hundreds of thousands of contractors.

“Mandating immediate telework participation to prevent the spread of the disease within the Federal and contractor workforce will also help protect the mission-critical operations of Federal agencies,” the members of Congress said.

They told President Trump they were concerned about reports that some Federal employee supervisors continue to deny telework requests from employees and contractors who have the ability to work remotely. “We believe more can and should be done to ensure the health of our Federal workforce, our contractor workforce, and our nation,” they said. “Telework participation must be mandated.”

Asked today whether OMB’s telework guidance issued late on Tuesday was sufficient, Rep. Connolly said that direction “thus far has not gone far enough.”

“It leaves it up to supervisors to approve telework when the President could mandate telework for all eligible employees,” said Rep. Connolly, who chairs the House Government Operations Subcommittee. “There is also a lack of guidance for contract workers that are serving with these Federal employees. We should be doing all we can to expand telework to those that can safely carry out their mission away from the office.”

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