WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is standardizing rules aimed at ensuring compliance White House The Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers is immediately notified if he is unable to perform his duties.
In a memo obtained by NBC News on Friday, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients detailed the steps federal agencies must take when it comes to devolution. This step was taken after Defense Minister Lloyd Austin did not make a statement his hospitalization to the White House for a few days earlier this month.
“While the protocols you provide may vary due to different authorizing statutes, regulations, and executive orders, through this process we ensure that there is a set of standard protocols that all agencies must follow in the event of authorization,” Zients said in the memo.
The White House previously asked agencies to submit notification plans if the Cabinet secretary’s authority is delegated elsewhere.
Zients said Friday that the guidelines include requirements for an agency to notify the White House chief of staff, document the delegation in writing and to authorize agencies if a Cabinet member is “hospitalized or undergoes a medical procedure requiring general anesthesia.”
According to an administration official, the memo is intended to make sure all agencies are on the same page and there is no room for interpretation.
When Austin was hospitalized on January 1, some of his duties were transferred to Under Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks the next day, although she was not informed of the secretary’s hospitalization. until January 4.
The delay in notifying the White House in Austin sparked a wide-ranging investigation. The Minister of Defense said that he took full responsibility for the non-disclosure of information.
“I also understand the media’s concerns about transparency and acknowledge that I could have done a better job of ensuring that the public is properly informed,” he said in a Jan. 6 statement.
Austin spent a few days intensive care unit for complications related to prostate cancer treatment, according to officials at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
He returned to Walter Reed for a scheduled appointment on Friday. The secretary has no further treatment planned for his prostate cancer issued a statement by two Walter Reed doctors.
“He continues to recover and is expected to make a full recovery,” doctors said in a statement released by the Pentagon. “Secretary Austin’s prostate cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent.”
Austin is expected to return to the Pentagon on Monday, according to defense officials. It will be his first time back in the building since being hospitalized on Jan. 1.