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FCW Insider: March 24

Let's call Dr. Fauci by his proper title -- public servant

Steve Kelman argues that Americans need to understand the essential contributions civil servants make to our society's mix.

Can Congress work from home?

The legislative branch may soon follow much of the corporate world and institute telework for its core functions, but there are serious questions about whether it has the legal and technological infrastructure in place to make it practicable for very long. Derek B. Johnson takes a look.

Barr presses states to allow critical feds to go to work

Attorney General William Barr asked states to ensure that mission-critical personnel can perform official duties despite local lockdowns. Lia Russell reports.

Labor Dept. waives some contractor compliance requirements

The Department of Labor's compliance program office temporarily waived some contractor affirmative action requirements to speed up COVID-19 response. Mark Rockwell has more.

NAPA will study OPM-GSA merger

The Academy expects to have the congressionally mandated study finished by March 2021. Rep. Gerry Connolly says he'll be watching the process closely. Lia explains.

Quick Hits

*** The Bureau of the Fiscal Service became the second agency to mandate telework for its employees, joining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Treasury Department bureau ordered its employees to immediately begin working from home or another non-office location beginning March 24.

"As a result of additional guidance from OPM and authority from Treasury to limit the number of employees in our facilities, Fiscal Service, starting Tuesday, March 24, 2020, is mandating telework for employees who are not required to perform on-site work -- including employees who are not currently on a telework agreement," employees were told in an internal memo obtained by FCW. "All employees (who are not performing work that must be conducted onsite) regardless of their current telework status must take their equipment home to telework."

The memo did not specify an end date for when the mandated telework period would end. The CFPB ordered its employees to telework beginning March 18 through April 3.

*** A group of Senate Democrats are offering legislation to force President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to force production of medical supplies needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

When invoked, federal contractors are required to prioritize federal government contract delivery of vital items. The act also empowers the president to incentivize industry to ramp up production of those items with loan guarantees and advance purchase commitments.

In a White House press conference on March 22, Trump said he was concerned about "nationalizing" U.S. businesses by harnessing the act's powers.

The Senate legislation would mandate a huge purchase of 300 million N95 medical facemasks, pushing industry to ramp production capabilities, according to a statement from bill sponsor Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

*** Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wants the National Park Service to explain what the agency was doing to protect the health of employees who worked at outdoor locations.

"While I understand that most NPS indoor properties, such as visitor centers, have been closed, some outdoor properties appear to be open to the public throughout the country," Rep. Holmes Norton wrote in a letter to Acting Director David Vela.

Posted by FCW Staff on Mar 24, 2020 at 1:38 AM


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