Fall influenza season has now arrived, with H1N1 and new strains of seasonal flu starting to affect families and communities across the nation. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has been proactive in preparing for this year’s flu season, working closely with the White House and key agencies to put in place the policies and procedures that will enable us to respond effectively to this year’s flu season and a possible outbreak of pandemic influenza. On July 31, 2009, I issued updated guidance on HR policies and procedures for pandemic response, based on agency experiences during last spring’s H1N1 pandemic. This question-and-answer document supplements existing guidance at www.opm.gov/pandemic/OPM-Pandemic_AllIssuances.pdf. I have also included H1N1 as a priority agenda item during the past several meetings of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, in order to provide updates on the virus’ status, share best practices in preparing and testing telework plans, and explore issues associated with managing our workforce and our operations during a pandemic.
To assure you have full access to the best available information throughout this year’s influenza season, I am creating a Community of Practice (COP) for H1N1/HR. This COP will meet virtually through the OMB MAX portal to share information and best practices, raise issues and questions for exploration with OPM, and conduct virtual forums to provide the latest information on the current outbreak. The OMB MAX portal is a web-based collaboration tool available to federal employees with a .gov or .mil email address, and enables document sharing, interactive discussion in wiki-type formats, and other exchange of information including online forums. Access to the H1N1/HR community page will be restricted to your designees to enable open exchange of information and ideas among federal officials responsible for addressing HR issues as this year’s flu season progresses.
I invite you to designate your Human Resources Director, and your lead HR official for H1N1 response, as participants in this COP. Please provide these individuals’ names, titles, email addresses, and phone numbers to Julie.Saad@opm.gov by Friday, September 25, 2009. We will send an invitation to these designees to join the restricted MAX page. The first virtual forum will take place on October 6, 2009, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon. An agenda will be posted on MAX prior to the event.
Thank you for your efforts to prepare for this year’s flu season.