Resuming Normal Operations

Last edited 02/15/2023


Thank you for your dedication and commitment to advancing the Department of the Interior's
(Department) mission and priorities for the American people, especially over the past couple of
months. As always, your health and safety and that of the public who visit and use the lands we
steward are of utmost importance. Your flexibility and professionalism have allowed us to adapt
to changing circumstances while providing mission-critical functions and services.

At President Donald J. Trump's direction, we began a Department-wide, coordinated effort to
evaluate the best way to return to a new normal for our operations. Consistent with the White
House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, and in general alignment with guidance from
Governors, each Bureau has finalized a plan that will utilize a phased approach as we return
employees to the workplace and continue efforts to ensure that access and opportunities across
our public lands are fully restored.

Over the past few weeks, I have visited with some ofyou as I conducted various site inspections.
I witnessed the significant measures you have taken to keep an overwhelming majority ofour
public lands accessible to the public throughout this pandemic. The visits have also provided me
a more informed perspective on the challenges we face as we move into recovery. What has been
clear is the creativity and the dedication many ofyou have brought to addressing this challenge.

To ensure we have the staffwe need to properly address impacts from this challenge, we will
expeditiously utilize new and existing hiring authorities that will allow Bureaus to hire the
support staffneeded to address COVID-19 response and recovery actions. These authorities,
along with relationships with States and partners, will allow Bureaus to address immediate
support needs.

Many States are now implementing protocols to return to normal operations. The Department
will adapt to these various postures at the pace of the States. Throughout all phases, I will
continue to rely on our Field Special Assistants to coordinate with their respective regional
executive teams to ensure the Department's workplace flexibilities and operating protocols are
applied consistently. I have also extended certain workplace flexibilities, including support for
caregivers until schools resume normal operations, and, in the early phases of the recovery, the
continuation oftelework where consistent with operational needs. Other administrative actions,
such as weather and safety leave, will sunset as employees are able to return to their duty 
stations, while recognizing the continued importance ofprotecting our vulnerable employees
through extended telework and workplace flexibilities.

Together, we have successfully navigated uncharted waters, and I know we will move forward
confidently in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you for your dedicated service to the
American people and your continued commitment to our Department's varied missions. 


David L. Bernhardt
Secretary of the Interior

(signed memorandum)

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