DOD reviewing work policies as COVID regs roll back

By Tony Bertuca / May 2, 2023 at 1:35 PM

The Defense Department is reviewing its in-person and telework policies following the roll back of COVID-19 federal emergency requirements, according to a new DOD-wide memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

“Department leaders are reviewing the new [Office of Management and Budget] guidance to determine how it will affect the department and its posture related to in-person and telework,” Hicks said. “Over the next 60 days we will also review and update (as required) the department' s Work Environment Plan. This review will be data-driven and informed by the wealth of experience the department gained with work environment flexibilities required by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hicks says DOD’s approach will be “grounded in continuing efforts to understand and embrace the future of work to ensure our department is a leading employer in its endeavor to maximize both performance and employee satisfaction.”

The review will be led by the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness in coordination with the chief improvement office.

Hicks notes DOD’s workforce “has demonstrated both extraordinary commitment and incredible flexibility” over the past three years, with most employees returning to in-person work and complying with the department’s current telework policy, which predates the pandemic.

“The department, given its national security mission, kept its offices open during the pandemic,” she said. “The department, and our workforce, embraced new work environments -- ones that took us out of a physical office when appropriate,” she said. “Many members of our Total Force continued, or quickly returned to, their in-person work to ensure mission success.”

DOD last month announced that, in accordance with President Biden's termination of the national emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, the department would be ending several contracting and acquisition policies aimed at mitigating damage to the U.S. defense industrial base, including increased progress payment rates for large contractors.