Democratic lawmakers said that making agencies’ continuity of operations plans public could put the minds of both federal workers and members of the public at ease.
A group of eight Democratic senators on Thursday urged the Trump administration to require federal agencies to publish their contingency plans to maintain operations during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to acting Office of Personnel Management Director Michael Rigas and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and seven of his colleagues said making agencies’ continuity of operations plans public could reduce the widespread confusion among both federal workers and members of the public.
“Making these plans transparent and readily available is key to ensuring that our constituents understand what services are continuing in the midst of the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is also important for federal employees and contractors to understand and properly implement required mitigation measures and for policymakers to ensure compliance with these measures.”
In recent days, federal employees across the federal government have described confusion among the workforce, noting that agencies have made changes to their operations and telework policies. And although the Social Security Administration announced Monday that it was closing all local field and hearing offices, members of the public reportedly showed up to locked buildings on Tuesday.
The senators noted that posting continuity of operations plans online would be consistent with other scenarios when federal services are curtailed or shuttered, like during government shutdowns.
“Sharing this information publicly would be consistent with how the Office of Management and Budget has posted department and agency contingency plans for lapses in federal appropriations,” they wrote. “Such transparency is critical to give citizens confidence in the government response during this difficult time and assure federal employees and contractors that the government is prioritizing their health and well-being.”