NASA Shifts All Centers to Mandatory Telecommuting

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Only Mission-Essential Personnel Exempt from NASA-Wide Mandatory Telecommuting Order.

Late yesterday, March 17th, NASA announced a mandatory telecommuting order for all agency employees. Of course, mission-essential personnel will still need to be on-site in certain cases. However, for everyone else, it’s pack-up-your-government-laptop-and-go-home time. The mandatory telecommuting order comes as the agency moves into “Stage 3” of its official response protocol to the coronavirus outbreak. 

NASA Response Framework

Beyond the telecommuting order, the response framework also dictates employees restrict travel to that which is mission-essential. 

The order comes down from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who said the following in a statement yesterday:

“Although a limited amount of employees have tested positive for COVID-19, it is imperative that we take this pre-emptive step to thwart further spreading of the virus among the workforce and our communities. Implementing best practices early and quickly will increase the likelihoods of better outcomes.”

Bridenstine also encouraged employees to use collaboration tools for remote work. Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented numbers of people working from home during this outbreak, many of those services are experiencing connection issues. According to a separate statement posted to a personnel website, “There is no known timeframe for resolving the problem.” 

Getting Ahead…

Prior to Bridenstine’s announcement, many NASA facilities around the country were taking measures to move to Stage 3 independently. Including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Other centers that moved to Stage 3 before Bridenstine’s mandatory telecommuting order include the Ames Research Center in California and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. While JPL has seen no confirmed cases of COVID-19, each of the other facilities had one employee diagnosed. 

Any NASA employees working in the San Francisco Bay Area would have already been under mandatory telecommuting orders, too. This because prior to Bridenstine’s announcement, the city implemented a “shelter in place” order which requires telecommuting where possible and restricts all but essential movement. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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