A year ago this month we were still grappling with understanding how to operate in this pandemic environment and wondering when we’d be back to “normal.” I don’t think many of us would have guessed we’d still be wondering a year later. As an organization we’ve made tremendous strides, using tools like telework and taking precautions to protect those required to report to our worksites to continue supporting our customers and meet our mission requirements. Even though at times we might feel “stuck,” the pandemic situation – and the federal government’s response to it – has continued to evolve. This message is intended to update the workforce of the latest developments potentially affecting our employees.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund
The ARP Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund authorizes emergency paid leave for a wide variety of reasons related to COVID-19. All DLA civilian employees are covered by this emergency paid leave provision, which provides up to 600 hours (15 weeks) of paid leave. The emergency paid leave is in addition to other types of paid leave but may not be used concurrently with other types of paid leave. The Government set aside $570 million in an emergency leave fund for federal employees to draw from, and the leave benefits are capped at $2800 per pay period. This leave may be used from March 11, 2021, through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2021. Please note: the employee’s federal retirement service computation date is amended by the amount of emergency paid leave used. This means time spent on emergency paid leave does not count towards the employee’s retirement benefits. You can find the full list of authorized reasons for employees to use this emergency leave fund in the Interim Guidance on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. EAGLE site administrators will provide interim instructions for coding this leave in the EAGLE Time and Attendance System. OPM implementing guidance on emergency paid leave is pending publication and may result in backdated corrections in EAGLE being necessary. Once implementing guidance is published, DoD and DLA will issue supplemental procedural guidance for administering requests for emergency paid leave.
Vaccine Availability and Reporting
The Department of Defense (DoD) continues efforts to ensure every Department employee and beneficiary who wishes to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is able to obtain it. DLA has created and is maintaining location-based lists of employees wishing to obtain vaccination from a DLA-facilitated source, and we are working through those lists based on local availability. These location-based lists are managed by a Senior Accountable Official (SAO) and Senior Accountable Representative (SAR) at each DLA location. These designated officials are responsible for managing workforce accountability within each location, although they may not be within each employee’s chain of command.
DoD has recently expanded efforts to gather data to better focus vaccine supply availability, so DLA is working to determine the percentage of the workforce that has been vaccinated against COVID-19. This information will be used to aid in identifying locations with distribution shortfalls and assist in prioritizing Agency/DoD vaccination efforts. You probably have been asked by a supervisor if you have received the vaccine or received a survey from your local SAO or SAR. Moving forward, this survey will be delivered electronically on a secure platform, through which you may access and report your information. Details will be provided to the workforce in coming days. While providing your vaccination status is completely voluntary, your input helps us more effectively plan for and deliver vaccine doses where they are needed most.
In the meantime, those wanting to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are encouraged to explore all methods for receiving the vaccine, including state and county health departments, local pharmacies, your personal healthcare provider, or the Department of Veterans Affairs if you are an eligible beneficiary. To learn more about the safety and efficacy of available COVID-19 vaccines, these sites from the Military Health System and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide reliable information.
Due to local conditions and instructions from the White House and the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM), most DLA locations are paused in Phase 0 or 1 of the DLA Reconstitution Framework. Agency leaders are waiting for additional guidance from DoD that will provide more specific details on the administration’s approach to reconstituting federal workplaces. However, recommended occupancy limits don’t impact our mission requirements. Commanders have flexibility to request exceptions for operational needs. Organizational and site leaders will receive revised reconstitution guidance when DoD officials issue further instruction.
Mask Wearing/Workplace Safety and Health Practices
As more of us become fully vaccinated and COVID cases and hospitalization rates across the country level off or drop, we might be tempted to let our guard down in DLA workplaces. But DoD guidance remains the same: masks are required in all facilities and installations, and rules for social distancing and frequent handwashing remain in effect. It’s important for all of us to do our part to keep ourselves and our co-workers safe and healthy. Please review and refer to the latest guidance on mask usage and workplace practices on the DLA Coronavirus Information Page.
As we have been for over a year now, we’re all in this together. I’m amazed at what this Agency has overcome and accomplished since the pandemic began, and I know we’ll continue to succeed if we remain vigilant of the safety guidelines and continue to show concern for each other and our important missions.
Thanks for reading. Warfighter always!
Billie W. Keeler
Acting Director, DLA Human Resources
Defense Logistics Agency