Senators Call on Agencies to Post Contingency Plans for Public

Javier Cruz Acosta/

It’s the latest push by lawmakers on the executive branch to be more transparent in its COVID-19 response.  

Seven Democratic U.S. senators—led by Mark Warner, D-Va., pressed the leaders of the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management to direct federal agencies to post their continuity of operations plans online.

In a letter Thursday, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, joined Warner in pressing the Trump administration for more information regarding its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter, sent to OMB acting Director Russell Vought and OPM acting Director Michael Rigas, said publishing COOP plans instills confidence in constituents regarding services during the crisis and allows policymakers to ensure proper compliance.

“As the federal government continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, we request that you require departments and agencies to post their COOP plans online in an accessible format and central location, unless there are legitimate intelligence or national security reasons not to do so,” the senators wrote. “Making these plans transparent and readily available is key to ensuring that our constituents understand what services are continuing in the midst of the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19. It is also important for federal employees and contractors to understand and properly implement the required mitigation measures and for policymakers to ensure compliance with these measures.”

The push to publicize COOP plans is the latest push by lawmakers for action or transparency in the Trump administration and federal agencies. Earlier Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sought the Trump administration’s plan for producing, distributing, and conducting coronavirus testing across the country from the Department of Health and Human Services. On Wednesday, more than 60 representatives joined two dozen senators urging President Donald Trump to order mandated telework for eligible federal employees and contractors.

“Sharing this information publicly would be consistent with how the Office of Management and Budget has posted department and agency contingency plans for lapses in federal appropriations,” the senators said. “Such transparency is critical to give citizens confidence in the government response during this difficult time and assure federal employees and contractors that the government is prioritizing their health and well-being.”