February 21, 2024

By Seung Min Kim and Zeke Miller | Related Press

WASHINGTON — The White Home chief of workers on Tuesday ordered Cupboard members or secretaries to inform his workplace in the event that they ever can’t carry out their duties, because the Biden administration, reeling from studying of Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin’s shock sickness final week, mounts a coverage assessment.

Jeff Zients, in a memo to Cupboard secretaries, directed that they ship the White Home any present procedures for delegating authority within the occasion of incapacitation or lack of communication by Friday. Whereas the assessment is ongoing, he’s requiring businesses to inform his workplace and the workplace of Cupboard affairs on the White Home if an company experiences or plans to expertise a circumstance through which a Cupboard head can’t carry out their duties.

The memo comes after President Joe Biden and different prime officers weren’t knowledgeable for days that Austin had been hospitalized and had turned over energy to his deputy. A Pentagon spokesman blamed the lapse on a key staffer being out sick with the flu.

“Businesses ought to make sure that delegations are issued when a Cupboard Member is touring to areas with restricted or no entry to communication, present process hospitalization or a medical process requiring basic anesthesia, or in any other case in a circumstance when she or he could also be unreachable,” Zients’ memo states. It additionally requires that businesses doc when any such switch of authorities happens and that the particular person serving within the appearing function promptly set up contact with related White Home workers.

A duplicate of the memo was obtained by the Related Press.

Austin, 70, went to the hospital on Dec. 22 for what the Pentagon press secretary referred to as an “elective process” however one critical sufficient that Austin briefly transferred a few of his authorities to his deputy, with out telling her or different U.S. leaders why. He went dwelling the next day.

He additionally transferred a few of his authorities to Deputy Protection Secretary Kathleen Hicks after experiencing extreme ache and being taken again to Walter Reed Nationwide Army Medical Heart by ambulance and put into intensive care on Jan. 1 — although Hicks was not informed the rationale for 3 days. The White Home was not knowledgeable Austin was within the hospital till Jan. 4, and the general public and Congress didn’t be taught of it till a day later.