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White House Eyes Guidance in Anticipation of ‘Potential Narrowing’ of Injunction on Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate

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The Office of Management and Budget and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force will release at least three guidance documents to agencies once a federal appeals court ruling that partially lifts the ban on the White House’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors takes effect on Tuesday, Oct. 18, Federal News Network reported Monday.

In August, the appeals court overturned a lower court decision that imposes a nationwide injunction on the vaccine mandate.

According to a notice issued Friday, OMB will issue an initial notification to agencies to ensure their compliance with applicable injunctions and whether they should include contract clauses implementing the mandate in future solicitations and contracts.

The task force will release updated guidance on COVID-19 safety protocols for covered contractor and subcontractor workplace sites after the issuance of the initial notification. The OMB director will assess the guidance to determine whether it promotes federal contracting efficiency and economy.

OMB will then publish guidance on considerations and timing for providing written notice to contractors regarding the enforcement of contract clauses implementing the vaccine mandate.

OMB called on federal agencies not to take any measures to enforce the vaccine mandate until all the guidance documents are issued.

Stephanie Kostro, executive vice president for policy at the Professional Services Council, said such steps from OMB could result in some agencies requiring federal contractors to comply with the vaccine mandate and that there are some details that need clarification.

“It’s not clear what the next steps are and what contractors should do as a result … There’s a lot of wiggle room in what it means for contractors,” Kostro said.