OPM Needs to Improve Telework Reporting, GAO Report Finds

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has insufficiently assessed the use of telework across the federal government, as required by the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act.

OPM’s first telework report was released in 2012. To create that report, OPM relied on data provided by agencies. However, not all agencies submitted data to OPM, citing management resistance or lack of resources as justification for non-compliance.

GAO found that many agencies lacked the “systems capacity to collect all requested data,” and that “old school” perspectives of some supervisors obstructed teleworking. Furthermore, data collection of participation rates, cost savings, and tracking goals were stymied by technological limitations within agencies.

Small agencies in particular had problems implementing new telework policies. The report found small agencies could have insufficient staff availability to have a backup employee in the office while a coworker was teleworking, and that new teleworking technologies had not been installed due to limited funding.

Numeric participation goals, required by the telework act, have only been established by 47% of agencies. While OPM says it plans to have all agencies provide such goals by the issuance of the next report in 2014, GAO tasked OPM with requiring more concrete timetables and milestones from each agency.

Overall, according to the GAO report, OPM only partially met two of the seven reporting requirements set in the telework act, leaving five un-addressed.

GAO made several recommendations to OPM to improve the next telework report. Those recommendations include: 1) providing goal-setting assistance for agencies not yet able to report telework goals; 2) including in its report the amount of cost savings resulting agency telework, and the method the agency used to assess or verify the savings; and 3) improve reliability of data collection, work with the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, to develop documented agreements and a timetable for completion of an automated tracking system or other reliable data collection method that can be validated by OPM.

OPM officials partially concurred with the first recommendation, concurred with the second, and said they have completed the third recommendation.

Posted in General News

Tags: telework

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