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OPM Report to Congress on Teleworking
September 19, 2009 at 9:13 am #80961
News Story from govexec.com
Telework increasing steadily but slowly, OPM says
By Alex M. Parker
September 17, 2009
Participation in telework rose in 2008, but the percentage of eligible federal employees who took advantage of the alternative work arrangement on a regular basis remained small, according to a report released Wednesday by the Office of Personnel Management.
Last year, 102,900 federal employees worked off-site at least once a month, the report stated. That’s an increase of 8,257 employees, or 9 percent, from 2007, when 94,643 employees teleworked regularly. But it is only 8.6 percent of eligible workers and 5.2 percent of all federal employees.
“The report indicates steady albeit very slow progress in telework,” OPM Director John Berry wrote in an accompanying message. “We have significant work ahead to develop a strong telework culture.”
The majority of teleworkers in 2008 spent at least one day a week away from the office. Thirteen percent worked off-site three times a week or more, 51 percent did so one or two days weekly, and 36 percent telecommuted less than once a week but more than once a month.
Forty-eight of 78 agencies that responded to the survey reported growth in telework from 2007. The report singled out the Health and Human Services, Interior, Transportation and Veterans Affairs departments as agencies that had made substantial strides, and pointed to the Commerce, Defense, Justice and State departments as agencies with large drops in participation.
Among smaller agencies, the Census Bureau multiplied its ranks of teleworkers from 12 to 276 employees. In contrast, the Food and Drug Administration saw its number of teleworkers fall from 891 to 364.
Officials cited office coverage — or ensuring there were enough people on-site to keep things running — as the top barrier to telework. Other issues included management resistance, organizational culture, and concerns about cybersecurity and funding.
“The potential benefits of a teleworking workforce are now more important than ever,” Berry wrote. “With the cost of gas again on the rise it has become a critical tool in the struggle to balance stretched family budgets; with the threats of new strains of influenza, it provides an effective resource in the face of possible pandemic; as our nation searches for ways to conserve energy, telework provides a valuable asset toward establishing green workplaces.”
Talk of telework as an emergency preparation tool heated up this spring with the outbreak of the H1N1 flu. As of last year, 44 of the 78 agencies surveyed, or 56 percent, had fully integrated telework into their continuity of operations planning, the report stated.
“I’m overall pleased to see upward progress,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who has sponsored legislation to increase telework. “We have a long way to go toward achieving what I think ought to be the goal.”
Connolly noted the numbers were from 2008 and did not reflect the Obama administration’s commitment to telework. He also pointed out the wide variation in participation rates and the fact that some agencies reported substantial decreases in use of the work arrangement.
“That tells me that this was not a serious program,” Connolly said. “For a program to work, it’s got to be systemic. It’s got to have a champion at the top, and resources have to be devoted to it. It’s got to be written into the management handbook, so that … supervisors and employees understand what is expected of them.”
(C) 2009 BY NATIONAL JOURNAL GROUP, INC.
September 22, 2009 at 6:39 pm #80964
Rather SHORT commentary from one of the blogs that I monitor
From the IT Businessedge blog
Federal Telecommuters Hindered By Budget Crunch, IT Security
Posted by Kim Mays Sep 21, 2009 10:30:49 AM
The federal government employs only a small percentage of telecommuters, and those numbers aren’t likely to increase very quickly, says FierceGovernmentIT.com. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a report that shows budget cuts and IT security issues are holding back government telecommuting staff.
In its report, OPM showed that in 2008, a 5.2 percent increase in the total number of federal telecommuting employees — and those numbers included staff who performed offsite work only once per month. The report also indicated that government agencies identified other such barriers to telecommuting as management resistance, organizational culture and office coverage.
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