As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have reverberated across the country, the federal government’s role in handling the pandemic is primed to come under intense scrutiny. Recent media reports
indicate federal employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may soon be the target of an "in-depth evaluation” with an aim of making the agency a scapegoat for shortcomings in the government’s coronavirus response. However, COVID-related scrutiny of federal employees is not likely to stop with CDC—federal agencies across the board have participated in COVID-related actions, and may therefore be subject to future investigations, commissions, and scrutiny.
Blame and demands for accountability will come from all angles--Congress, the Executive Branch, federal agencies, the media, and the public. This demand for accountability will not be limited to the top tiers of the federal bureaucracy and will likely extend to individuals of all departments, agencies, and GS levels. Inevitably, career civil servants who were just doing their jobs will be tossed into the arena – potentially unprotected and unrepresented.
Already, there have been many demands for the establishment of commissions, committees, and subcommittees for oversight concerning coronavirus preparedness, response efforts, funds disbursement, first-responder actions, and compliance. These proposed oversight programs and departments will investigate administrative missteps and policy mistakes that have contributed to the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. While proper COVID-19 response guidelines seem to be constantly changing, federal managers and employees will likely be held accountable for these changes and resulting actions or inactions. It will be easy for others to look upon events that have transpired with 20/20 hindsight, but it will not be easy for federal employees to defend themselves against allegations or lawsuits along the way.
In this fraught time, how can federal employees best protect themselves? The answer is simple—a professional liability insurance policy from FEDS Protection. When the investigations and 20/20 hindsight begins, FEDS will be there for its members with three distinct types of coverage:
1) Administrative & Disciplinary Matters. FEDS Protection pays for legal defense for any administrative investigation or judicial sanction proceeding arising out of any act, error, or omission while rendering a professional service. This applies to any administrative investigation including but not limited to OIG, OPR, OSC, Office of Inspection, Congressional, and agency directed investigations AS WELL AS disciplinary actions.
2) Personal Capacity Lawsuits / Bivens Actions. You Can Be Sued. DOJ Can Deny Representation. You Can be Held Liable for a Judgment. FEDS Protection pays for legal defense and indemnity protection if you are sued for any act, error or omission arising out of the course and scope of employment.
3) Criminal Investigations. Some of the most common criminal investigations involving federal employees are due to conflict of interest statutes where intent is not a prerequisite to prove the crime, alleged misappropriation of federal funds, or inadvertent release of privacy act or other statutorily protected information. FEDS PLI pays for legal defense for any criminal investigation or proceeding into any act, error, or omission arising out of your rendering of a professional service.
As the United States faces new peaks in coronavirus cases, it appears the pandemic’s impact on American life is far from over. Federal employees have already called FEDS Protection expressing concern about COVID-related potential liability exposures and to enroll in the professional liability insurance program. FEDS Protection was founded on a platform of education for federal officials and has been here for federal employees for more than a decade. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have been hosting webinars to provide information to the federal community. To learn more, watch a FEDS Protection webinar
. If you have any questions, want to learn more, or enroll with FEDS, feel free to contact us online
or call us at 866-955-FEDS.