As part of a much larger spending request, the White House has requested $28 million in emergency 2020 funding to help the Department of Energy telework during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DoE share will pay “for additional information technology requirements and telework support, also including increased cybersecurity costs, in response to coronavirus,” according to a letter dated Tuesday from Russell Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to congressional leaders.
To slow the rapid spread of COVID-19, employers across the globe are calling for personnel to work from home, if able.
Within the DoE total is $1 million for the Other Defense Activities account to promote teleworking among DoE defense-nuclear personnel. The account includes funding for the agency’s Environment, Health, Safety and Security Program; Office of Enterprise Assessments; Specialized Security Activities; and the Office of Legacy Management. Other Defense Activities is not part of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Other parts of DoE would also receive telework funding. For example: The Office of Science would get $1 million, the Office of Fossil Energy would get $3 million, and the four Power Marketing Administrations would in total get $2 million.
Politico obtained a copy of Vought’s 118-page letter to Congress.
COVID-19, the viral disease caused by the novel coronavirus that broke out in Wuhan, China, last year, has prompted governments and workforces the world over to promote social distancing — keeping people physically away from one another to keep the disease from spreading. That has prompted a sharp uptick in the number of people working from home, sometimes straining the capability of information technology systems and users to cope with the change.
The new supplemental appropriation the Trump administration seeks is separate from the emergency funding bill the president signed March 6, which included more than $8 billion in COVID-19 funding. The Energy Department got no extra funding from that bill. It is also separate from the House-authored Families First Coronvirus Response Act that the Senate passed Wednesday.
The House of Representatives is not due to return to Washington until next week, and the Senate had not started work on a supplemental spending bill at deadline for Defense Daily.