The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued instructions to Federal agency and department heads on March 14 to limit any travel by Federal agency employees to “mission-critical” situations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The new travel policy reflects the administration’s aim “to prioritize the health and safety of the work force – and of Americans broadly,” OMB said.

“Only mission-critical travel is recommended at this time,” OMB said, leaving it up to agency heads to determine when travel meets that threshold.

“Travel by any Federal employee to or within areas where there is a community spread of COVID-19 should only be undertaken when there is an urgent need, such as to protect life and property,” OMB said.

OMB said Federal agencies should consider a range of factors in determining whether or not travel is mission-critical, including:

  • Whether the purpose of travel is to perform duties related to “the protection of life and property”;
  • Whether the travel is related to inspection of systems or equipment “integral to security, safety, or proper functioning of the mission”;
  • Whether the travel is to meetings or trainings required by a grant or to maintain grant funding;
  • Whether travel is related to certification or licensing requirements to maintain “critical functional or occupational competencies”;
  • Whether meetings can be conducted by phone or video conference; and
  • Whether meetings can be easily postponed or performed at a later date.
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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.