More US federal officials are returning to the office when in-person services return

By Jack Aldane on 07/03/2022 | Updated 8/3/2022

The White House said the pandemic “no longer needs to dictate” how the federal government functions.

US President Joe Biden has outlined his administration’s plan for federal employees to return to work to expand the range of personal public services available through agencies.

The plan to bring federal employees back to the office follows two years in which large numbers of U.S. federal government employees adopted remote working to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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In a statement, the White House said the pandemic “no longer needs to dictate” how the federal government functions. “Federal agencies will lead by example by increasing the opening hours of public offices for in-person appointments and face-to-face interactions during the month of April,” it said.

President Biden hinted at details of his strategy to expand the range of federal services offered face-to-face in his State of the Union address last week. The strategy is outlined in the government’s recently released National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

Agencies that need to step up their in-person services include the Social Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which are supported by administration to quickly set up mass vaccination sites when the state requests them. FEMA has designed a playbook for establishing these sites that will allow it to work with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense to respond quickly to government requests.

Read more: “Real transformation requires leadership from above”: Response to Biden’s plan to reform federal services

Biden’s thank-you letter to federal officials

Before his speech, President Biden sent a thank-you letter to federal employees, in which he wrote:

“Your skills and dedication make the Dederal government strong and ensure we meet the basic needs of Americans every day. Because of our progress in combating the pandemic, we can safely increase in-person work while continuing to protect your health and safety.”

As the government executive reported, Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), said he welcomed the president’s praise for federal employees, but stressed that many federal employees have remained in their normal duty stations during the pandemic, and so have many others had already returned to the offices.

“Just as President Biden said in his letter, federal employees have not allowed a pandemic to halt progress toward economic recovery, protecting national security and helping our federal agencies do their important jobs,” he said.

The White House, meanwhile, has requested $22.5 billion in funding from Congress to fund tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as “investment in research and development of next-generation vaccines and global responses, including more gunfire around the world.” “. .

The funding request also aims to provide agencies with the resources to vaccinate children under the age of five once approved. Agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Defense will continue to help develop and manufacture vaccines to meet the country’s goal of one billion doses annually. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service will also be able to vaccinate their constituents directly in the future.

Other elements of the plan include the federal government establishing one-stop shops for COVID-19 testing and treatment at pharmacies, community health centers and long-term care facilities.

Read more: US federal agencies’ COVID-19 vaccination rate has risen amid disciplinary action for non-compliance

Biden’s announcement comes after Canada’s federal government said it would resume plans to return civil servants to office.

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