The President’s Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (Implementation Plan), issued on May 3, 2006, called on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide guidance to Federal departments and agencies on human capital management and continuity of operations planning criteria related to pandemic influenza. In addition, the Implementation Plan required OPM to update its Telework Guide to provide guidance to Federal departments and agencies regarding workplace options during a pandemic. The material provided on this Website is OPM’s response to the President’s directive.
The guidance on this Website was developed in coordination with the Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, including representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Transportation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While the guidance has been prepared specifically with the possibility of a pandemic influenza in mind, most of the information is equally applicable in other pandemic health crisis situations as well as in many other emergency situations.
A quick glance at the Overview of OPM Pandemic Guidance Chart shows the guidance has been organized to present policy guidance in a variety of formats, including comprehensive statements of policy guidance; fact sheets and guides intended for various audiences; planning guides for agencies, human resources professionals, and managers; and questions and answers. The Overview Chart identifies the specific audiences for which each kind of guidance may be useful.
OPM urges Federal departments and agencies to make creative use of this material. For example, some of the fact sheets and guides may lend themselves to widespread distribution to all employees or to managers and supervisors. The checklists contained in some of the “planning guides” should be useful in ensuring each agency and its managers and supervisors are prepared for a possible pandemic health crisis.
The guidance is designed to help Federal departments and agencies achieve two equally important goals—(1) protecting the Federal workforce and (2) ensuring the continuity of operations. These goals are not mutually exclusive. The message to the American people should be that they can have confidence in the ability and determination of the Federal Government to carry out its mission, especially in an emergency. For this reason, the guidance emphasizes the need to carry on the work of the Government wherever possible and through whatever means are available, including voluntary telework arrangements and the designation of an employee’s home as a “safe haven” for the purpose of receiving “evacuation payments” and continuing the work of the Government. OPM does not anticipate the need for widespread use of excused absences (i.e., “administrative leave”), which should be regarded as a last resort in dealing with a pandemic heath crisis. If and when the need arises, we will work to develop a consistent Governmentwide policy on the use of excused absences.
OPM extends its thanks and appreciation to the many individuals in the Federal human resources community who reviewed and contributed to this material. With few exceptions, the guidance is not intended to be restrictive, but rather to empower agencies to prepare for and respond to the possibility of a pandemic influenza. As agencies continue to plan and, more importantly, test their ideas, we expect additional innovative approaches will evolve and be shared further.
OPM will continue to update and expand this Website to address emerging issues and strategies, as well as unforeseen circumstances.