National Capital Region Employees,
This memorandum provides additional detail following up on the Deputy Secretary’s recent communication to DOI employees in the National Capital Region (NCR). In line with the District of Columbia and neighboring jurisdictions in Virginia and Maryland, the Department of the Interior’s NCR workforce is currently in Phase 2 as defined by the COVID-19 Adaptive Operations Recovery Plans for each Bureau, the Solicitor’s Office and the Office of the Assistant Secretary, Policy, Management and Budget (PMB).
Now that we are in Phase 2 of the pandemic response in the NCR, here is information to assist our DOI workforce with this transition.
In Phase 2, DOI employees in the NCR will transition from a maximum telework posture to one where telework should continue to be encouraged where feasible consistent with operational needs. Supervisors should ensure that all telework eligible employees are telework ready and provide flexibilities for individual employees based on supervisor discretion.
Bureaus and offices should begin bringing employees back to office spaces to better satisfy operational needs. Supervisors should work with employees who share offices to ensure that no more than one person is present in that space on a given day if having more than one person present would preclude maintaining social distance of 6 feet. Similarly, supervisors should manage daily attendance in open work environments where employees are not separated by walls or floor to ceiling partitions, so employees who are present are able to maintain six feet physical distance.
If work can be performed more effectively in a telework posture, supervisors and employees should continue in that capacity to enhance mission delivery. Supervisors should work with their Servicing Human Resource Offices to understand the flexibilities afforded to them based on their local policies. References include: Fact Sheet: The Use of a Maxiflex Work Schedule in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and U.S. Office of Personnel Management Guidance on the Use of Alternative Work Schedules During Metro’s Platform Improvement Project.
As articulated in my May 22, 2020, memo, during Phase 2, supervisors are to continue to maximize telework flexibilities for workers whose conditions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified as being at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19 or who the CDC identifies as special populations, including pregnant women.
In making decisions about individual employees teleworking or returning to office locations during Phase 2, supervisors should be mindful of an employee’s ability to have reasonable access to public transportation if that is the employee’s normal way to commute. For example, given the current Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) closures, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is strongly encouraging agencies to allow affected employees in the Washington, DC, area to utilize various workplace flexibilities throughout the WMATA project, including telework and alternative work schedules. Additionally, Bureaus should explore providing more employees with parking at their place of work, redistribute existing parking and/or leverage any existing shuttle contracts as tools for moving employees from regional parking hubs to office locations.
Use of Weather & Safety Leave (administrative leave code 061) is no longer eligible except for employees that the CDC has classified as a high risk/vulnerable population.
Supervisors may continue to grant employees with childcare and/or dependent care responsibilities affected by COVID-19 up to 20 hours per pay period of excused absence (administrative leave code 060) to the extent they cannot complete their tour of duty through telework and/or work at the regular worksite until children in the associated schools and facilities return to physical learning locations.
As employees start returning to their workspaces during Phase 2, the following are safety and health recommendations for supervisors:
In Phase 2, the MIB will continue to be open with all entrances and parking garages accessible, including the Federal Reserve Building garage. Additional operational status information is as follows:
For the latest status on all MIB facility services, or to ask questions, please visit the OFAS website.
It is appropriate for supervisors to consider various forms of group communications, such as all-employee emails, Teams meetings, and town halls to orient employees to the changes in the workplace as they start coming back to the office. Please continue to ensure that the content of these communications is coordinated with Bureau Communications contacts and the Departmental Communications Office.
Finally, all DOI employees are encouraged to review the guidance on the Return to the Workplace Tab of the DOI COVID-19 Information Portal, which is updated frequently. Employees who need additional assistance or are encountering difficult challenges during this time are encouraged to reach out to their supervisors and/or Interior’s Employee Assistance Program, ESPYR.
Thank you again for keeping the Department’s many missions on track during this ongoing pandemic. You continue to perform in exceptional ways during unusual circumstances. We look forward to welcoming you back as it is safe to do so.
Scott J. Cameron
Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget
A signed copy of this memo is available here.