White House asks Cabinet agencies to 'aggressively execute' return to in
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White House asks Cabinet agencies to 'aggressively execute' return to in

Dec 26, 2023

The White House is directing Cabinet agencies to bring federal workers back into the office more frequently in the coming months, according to an internal email obtained by CNN.

The email, sent to Cabinet secretaries by White House chief of staff Jeff Zients, cites the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency and the benefit of increased productivity from in-person work.

“This is a priority of the President – and I am looking to each of you to aggressively execute this shift in September and October,” the email reads.

The directive was first reported by Axios.

Ahead of the expiration of the public health emergency on May 11, the Biden administration issued guidance saying that the federal workforce needed to “substantially” increase in-person work. The White House Office of Management and Budget’s April guidance called on each department – which set their own work requirements for employees – to design and implement its own plans to promote more in-office work but stopped short of calling for any specific requirement.

House Republicans have taken aim at federal teleworking policy, passing the SHOW UP Act that would force agencies to reinstate pre-pandemic work policies.

Zients’ directive – which cites the White House’s in-person posture for the last two years – is the strongest indicator yet that the administration believes in-office attendance is critical for agencies to carry out its agenda, with a critical election around the corner.

Zients pointed to messages already delivered by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and USAID Administrator Samantha Power to their workforces underscoring the importance of in-person work.

CNN’s Betsy Klein and Kaanita Iyer contributed to this reporting.