DC-Area Governments to Federal Employees: Get Back to Work

Amid reviews that COVID-19 is rising once more, and extra lockdowns could possibly be returning, native governments within the closely blue-leaning cities and counties surrounding Washington, D.C., chided federal businesses for permitting staff to ditch the workplace.

Native authorities staff for the District of Columbia, in addition to suburbs in Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland, have largely returned to work, whereas working just a few days every month from dwelling. Their representatives despatched a letter Wednesday suggesting that federal staff ought to do the identical.

A July Authorities Accountability Workplace report that examined 24 federal businesses stated the federal authorities “used 25 % or much less of their headquarters buildings’ capability throughout three weeks in January, February, and March 2023.” 

“All 24 businesses stated that their in-office workforce has not returned to pre-pandemic ranges on account of elevated use of telework and distant work,” the GAO report says. “Some businesses stated that office flexibilities, akin to episodic telework and distant work, existed earlier than the pandemic however are used rather more ceaselessly now.”

Nevertheless, many federal staff who beforehand labored of their D.C. workplaces have continued the 2020-era COVID lockdown schedule. 

“As you look to implement up to date schedules for the federal office, there could also be classes realized from our collective expertise, as our native governments have transitioned over the past a number of years from a distant surroundings to in-person and hybrid schedules,” the D.C. Council of Governments stated within the letter to Workplace of Administration and Funds Director Shalanda Younger. 

The letter notes that in April, the OMB suggested federal businesses to “considerably improve significant in-person work at federal workplaces.” In the meantime, White Home chief of employees Jeff Zients known as on federal managers to “aggressively execute this shift in September and October.”

“For many who are eligible to telework, staff usually report back to work in-person two to 3 days per week (not together with weekends),” the letter signed by officers from 23 jurisdictions with about 100,000 complete county and municipal staff, says. “We have now discovered that this strikes an applicable stability and supplies one of the best stage of service for taxpayers. With the ability to work collectively, troubleshoot issues, tackle massive concepts, and supply face-to-face service for our residents is achieved whereas nonetheless offering flexibility for our personnel to make money working from home.” 

In 2022, a number of Democratic mayors in addition to Democratic governors reportedly vowed to keep away from additional COVID lockdowns. This got here after the celebration appeared much more amenable to lockdowns, masks mandates and vaccine mandates in 2020 and 2021. 

The Each day Sign reached out to Dallas Democratic Mayor Eric Johnson, who has expressed skepticism about future lockdown measures if COVID-19 charges improve. Nevertheless, his workplace stated Johnson is overseas on metropolis enterprise and is unavailable to remark.

The Each day Sign additionally reached out to spokespersons for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, each Democrats. 

Each have been elected final yr. Their predecessors Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago had additionally expressed skepticism of future lockdowns. 

In 2022, among the Democratic governors who got here beneath probably the most scrutiny for the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 expressed skepticism. 

The Each day Sign contacted the workplaces of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, all of whom are Democrats. None of them responded. 

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