Lankford Announces Bipartisan Bill to Maximize Telework Flexibility for Federal Agencies

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) today announced the bipartisan Pandemic Federal Telework Act, which would maximize telework for federal employees for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Senators previously introduced similar legislation, the Emergency Telework Act at the onset of this crisis to ensure that agencies and federal employees across the country have the tools they need to provide effective, efficient and secure service to the taxpayers. Lankford and Van Hollen are members of the Appropriations Committee and serve on the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. Lankford and Sinema serve as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management.

“I am glad to join Senators Van Hollen and Sinema on the Pandemic Federal Telework Act, which helps ensure federal employees have clarity on their telework status during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensures we equip teleworking federal employees with necessary training on security protocols,” said Lankford, chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. “Two weeks ago, I chaired a subcommittee hearing to learn best practices and valuable insights from the private sector who have utilized telework both before and during the pandemic. Their insight was incredibly valuable as the federal government continues to function with many federal employees in full-time telework status. I look forward to utilizing what we’ve learned and recommended to increase the availability and security of federal teleworking through this crisis and when we are finally past this crisis.”

“Federal employees serve our country and our constituents day in and day out. Maximizing telework is a no brainer – it keeps employees on the job while also keeping them safe and healthy and reduces the spread of the virus in our communities. This is the best way to keep workers safe so they can continue providing vital services to the American people during this difficult time. I’m proud to join in this bipartisan effort with Senators Lankford and Sinema to ensure our federal agencies are operating safely and efficiently, and I will be pushing this provision in the next relief package,” said Van Hollen.

“The federal government should lead by example and slow the spread of coronavirus by continuing to ensure employees are teleworking,” said Sinema.

The Pandemic Federal Telework Act would:

  • Require federal agencies to allow all telework-eligible federal workers to telework full-time for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Require federal agencies to evaluate whether non-telework-eligible employees can be made telework-eligible.
  • Allow agency heads to waive any of the above requirements for employees where there is a compelling reason to do so. This sets a default for maximum telework, but provides flexibility for jobs that cannot be done remotely.
  • Compel the Executive Branch to develop a plan to maximize telework in the event of a future public health emergency for an infectious disease.
  • Clarify that the Technology Modernization Fund may be used for technology-related modernization activities to facilitate telework.
  • Require that managers and supervisors, including political appointees, receive training on telework and management of a remote workforce, within 180 days of assuming a management or supervisory role over teleworking employees.

The text of the legislation is available here.