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Telework and management resistance
May 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm #72652
am I SURPRISED?!!
can listen/download MP3 from this link…
Fed managers leery of telework appeal process
By Max Cacas
May 27, 2009
The Office of Personnel Management has issued new guidance to all federal agencies designed to boost the number of feds eligible to telework. Included in that guidance is an idea that is raising the caution flag with some federal managers.
OPM Director John Berry announced his new telework push just under one month ago, in a briefing on Capitol Hill. At the time, he said many of the provisions of his new telework policy were gathered from several of the telework enhancement bills now pending in the House and Senate. And one, he says, focuses on one of the biggest stumbling blocks to a significant increase in federal teleworking.
Berry is encouraging agency heads to set up telework appeals procedures within their agencies to give workers one last chance to make their case when a supervisor says “no” to teleworking.
“Telework doesn’t work for everybody,” he said at the time, “but sometimes, you just get a manager who’s a stick in the mud. And when they are a stick in the mud, sometimes you just have to provide a way around that.”
So we decided to talk to representatives from the top two organizations representing Federal managers and get their perspectives on the matter.
Carol Bonasaro is president of the Senior Executives Association. She believes that Director Berry is on the right track in wanting to set up more uniform telework policies across the government based on what works. But in a telephone interview, she says when it comes to setting up a telework appeals process, it’s also important to remember that federal managers today are under a lot of pressure to perform.
“They may have some hesitation about telework,” she explains, “and they’re worried about can they get all the work done. Furthermore, there may be some employees that they’re not comfortable about giving that much lattitude to.”
Darry Perkinson is executive director of the Federal Managers Association, and while he welcomes the opportunity to discuss telework in the broader context of Berry’s desire to improve labor-management relations, he is skeptical for now about implementing a telework appeals procedure in agencies.
“Rather than go to an appeals process,” he said, referring to Director Berry’s comments on teleworking to Federal News Radio’s Mike Causey, Perkinson feels instead that such a process would impose, “indirect pressure on federal managers. When you get indirect pressure, and you’re being driven to do something, you don’t necessarily look at the process as clearly as if you were trying to make a business-case analysis of why it would work, or it wouldn’t work.”
Bonasaro also feels that despite the fact that agencies like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the General Services Administration, and NASA, have resolved many hardware and security issues linked to teleworking, security concerns remain a big stumbling block to be dealt with to satisfy many of SEA’s members.
And, the FMA’s Perkinson acknowledges the need to give new thought to expanding teleworking as part of “continuity of operations” planning for the Federal Government, given the fact that the swine flu is still expected to sicken many more people, possibly including federal workers, later this year.
May 28, 2009 at 7:01 pm #72658
Jeffrey D. Pound, Sr.Participant
As an avid teleworker and as a Cyber Security SME, I can tell you that there are ways to do telework in a manor that will meet or exceed almost all USG Cyber Security requirements from a technicial prespective. Those who work in Classified environments and with Classifed documents may be the exception.
June 6, 2009 at 3:31 am #72656
Kirk D. WebberParticipant
I have been a Fed for 15 years, and I always seem to hear the same reasons why Feds can’t telecommute; “if a manager can’t see you working, they don’t know you ARE working”. I think part of the problem is that managers don’t know how to organize their staff’s work so that they can see that it IS being done, whether or not the person is in the office or at the other end of a phone line. A couple other reasons given are:
– Certain sensitive information can be taken out of the office, or saved onto a PC at home. This is a valid concern, but can easily be dealt with by some common sense rules.
– A person who works an Alternate Workday Schedule -AWS can’t work regularly schedule telecommuting. This rule has never made sense to me, and it’s been in the last couple of agencies I worked in. Why should it matter whether a person is off every other Friday (or Monday, or whatever)?
I think the primary answer is clear, open, and continuous communication between a manager and their direct reports; on what needs to be done, what is being done, what the priorities are, etc. Until that happens, telecommuting will always be something (some) Federal managers try to avoid.
June 8, 2009 at 10:30 am #72654
Jeffrey D. Pound, Sr.Participant
I am a CISSP, and I understand security. I can tell you that the managers that say that they are “Concerned about the security implications of Telework” – at the unclassified level – are just not informed, or don’t understand the issues. With decent end point security, on USG furnished equipment, with VPN, the system and the communication stream as just about as secure as that same system sitting in the office. Of course physical security is an issue, but if the employee can’t provide that, then you have other more pressing issues to deal with.
Bottom Line: There is no reason from a security and technology perspective that extensive telecommuting would raise the risk profile of any organization on an unclassified network.
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