Trump Administration Launches Coronavirus Surge Response Program
Federal employees can apply for temporary assignments to help with the pandemic response.
On Friday the Office of Personnel Management launched a program for federal employees who want to assist with the response to the novel coronavirus.
The new surge program for temporary assignments is in response to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13. It is hosted on Open Opportunities, a federal hiring platform through USA Jobs.
“The COVID-19 surge response program will allow agencies to quickly realign their workforce so they can better accomplish their mission for the American people,” said acting OPM Director Michael Rigas, in a press release. “Dedicated civil servants will be able to go to one place and apply for a mission-critical position to support the public during this national emergency.”
An OPM spokesperson told Government Executive that the assignments are “non-reimbursable details, and as such federal employees will receive the salary and benefits of their positions of record at their home agencies.” The opportunities are for current federal employees only.
Employees who wish to participate must complete a memorandum of understanding with their home agency and the one they will work in temporarily. The document outlines the nature and scope of the temporary assignment, work situation in both agencies and security clearance process (if needed).
Over the past few weeks, the administration has encouraged federal employees and contractors to shift their operations, if possible, and offered hiring flexibilities to aid the pandemic response. This included: allowing temporary fulfillment of positions for up to a year, calling on agencies to use the “breadth of available technology capabilities" to support essential services and empowering contractors to utilize procurement powers authorized under the national emergency declaration.
Some agencies also have been undertaking their own initiatives to bring on additional employees. The U.S. Army is reaching out to retired officials, noncommissioned officers and soldiers who might want to assist with the coronavirus response, according to an email from the Army. Also, the Veterans Affairs Department is looking to bring back retired clinicians and federal health care providers.
OPM’s program was launched a day after the United States became the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. Hospitals are struggling to meet the demand for services.