March 16, 2020

Wyden Urges Trump to Immediately Maximize Telework for Federal Workers


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today, along with 26 of his colleagues, sent a letter to Donald Trump urging him to immediately issue an executive order directing agencies to utilize telework capabilities to the maximum possible extent.

While the administration has issued guidance recommending agencies expand their telework capabilities, too many federal employees are still required to come to work in-person when they can do their job from home. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts recommend practicing social-distancing, the federal government should lead by example and cease all policies that could endanger the health and safety of its employees and exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus. Oregon has an estimated 28,000 federal employees working within the state.

The senators wrote, “[we] urge you to immediately issue an executive order directing agencies to use telework to the maximum extent practicable in light of the COVID-19 emergency. The Office of Management and Budget issued guidance for agencies to increase telework flexibility in the National Capital Region, but your order should be a clear direction – rather than general guidance – and it should be worldwide in scope.”

The senators continued, “Your order should direct federal agencies to allow all telework-eligible federal workers to telework full-time, unless there is a clear and compelling reason not to do so for the effective operation of government. You should also order federal agencies to evaluate whether non-telework-eligible employees can be telework-eligible, and to do so for all employees where there is not a clear and compelling reason that telework is not compatible with the performance of their job functions.”

The senators closed the letter, noting, “Voluntary guidance is not enough – agencies need clear orders. In the absence of a clear order, agencies and managers have been hesitant to take major actions to shift towards telework and I hear from increasingly anxious federal workers in my state on a daily basis.”

Joining Wyden on the letter are U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Mark Warner, (D-Va., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Sherrod Brown. D-Ohio, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Angus King, I-Maine, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Tom Carper, D-Del., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

A copy of the letter is available here.