CFPB Seeks Health Guidance for Bringing Employees Back to Offices


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking for advice on health protocols, personal protective equipment, and general guidance for a workforce “re-entry” plan.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to proactively confront the needs that will accompany its federal workers’ return to pre-pandemic business-as-usual in the eventual aftermath of COVID-19.

The agency, charged with ensuring that America’s financial institutions are fair to its citizens, on Monday released a request for information seeking “public health preparedness and medical advisory services to advise senior leadership on a variety of health and operational matters” in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to help ease its impacts on the CFPB workforce. Officials want support developing re-entry plans and policies, as well as strategies for health-related protocols around personal protective equipment, testing, contact tracing, and beyond, customized insights from public health experts and medical personnel in “general recovery functions”—and much more.

“These services are necessary to ensure the readiness of the CFPB workforce and its operational capacity to fulfill its mission,” officials wrote in the sources sought notice.

The bureau apparently aims to act fast—the solicitation was published May 4, with the deadline for submissions set for May 7. 

Though most are still coping with the present reality of pandemic-induced mass telework, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget late last month jointly released guidance to steer federal agencies’ efforts to reopen their offices and support their employees’ and contractors’ return to work. The Trump administration’s guidance did not set specific timelines or include formal mandates, and ultimately leaves each agency’s decision-making around restoring their business up to their own discretion—prompting some to express a need for more, clear guidance.

Looking to get ahead where it can, in its RFI for emergency and pandemic management support CFPB said the work its exploring includes “the furnishing of all labor, supervision, equipment and training (except any specified Government Furnished Equipment)” for the duration of the potential contract. 

“These public health preparedness and medical advisory services will be provided during face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, video teleconferences and other interactions using technologies, such as Web-Ex and Skype as appropriate,” officials note. 

The bureau lays out a range of tasks and deliverables a chosen contractor would need to provide. Within two weeks of award, CFPB wants direct policy input and advice on its re-entry plan “as it relates to personal protective equipment, health screening, temperature checks, testing, isolating, and contact tracing.” After the plan is approved, the agency also wants support implementing it. Two months after its tapped, the contractor will need to make healthcare-related recommendations and updates CFPB’s pandemic and continuity of operations plans. 

The chosen entity will also be expected to create a Risk Register for the agency, according to the RFI. Though more details on the resource aren’t supplied, these risk management tools can often be thought of as living documents that encompass a range of relevant information about identified risks. Further, the agency also wants specific recommendations around social distancing inside and out of its facilities and advice from medical experts on how to promote positive morale across its workforce, and help minimize stress and anxiety during the present disruptions of employees’ normal work habits. And on top of several other tasks, the agency also calls for assistance in “developing medical strategies and executing medical procedures and health-related protocols around personal protective equipment, health screening, testing, isolating, contact tracing, and communications for COVID-19 positive or suspected cases.”

CFPB is still contemplating the release of a solicitation requesting quotes to address these specific needs. Those who would be interested in providing such services are asked to respond via email with a written response no longer than five pages by 4 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday.

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