The Office of Personnel Management says tough antismoking rules due to take effect in government buildings this fall are too rigid and could create morale and enforcement problems unless they are implemented "by consensus, not fiat."
In May the General Services Administration announced plans for a crackdown on smoking in most parts of the 6,800 buildings owned or rented by the government.
The new rules, banning smoking in open office space, lobbies, restrooms, elevators and conference rooms, would affect most of the government's 2.8 million workers, including the 350,000 civilians employed here.
Federal officials estimate that about one in every three employes smokes. Several agencies have implemented their own no-smoking policies, but most agencies rely on general guidelines laid down years ago.
GSA Administrator Terence C. Golden, a long-distance runner who is "death on smoking," according to an aide, gave agencies and interested parties 60 days to comment on the proposed regulations. GSA, the government's housekeeping agency, is responsible for everything from pencils to skyscrapers.
In a letter sent to Golden this week, OPM Director Constance Horner, also a nonsmoker, said OPM agrees with the aim of creating a smoke-free environment in federal offices but not the method proposed. Horner's agency sets policies for the people who work in buildings managed by GSA.
GSA's proposal calls for smoking areas in cafeterias and allows agency heads to determine if employes can smoke in their private offices.
But Horner says federal managers should have more flexibility to deal with smoking problems, particularly in the open office spaces where most workers are assigned.
"While we believe a centralized smoking restriction policy is appropriate for 'general use' areas (such as classrooms, corridors and elevators), such a policy is highly problematic for employee office space," Horner wrote to the GSA head. She said OPM would have to develop no-smoking rules and that "certain provisions of the proposed GSA regulations will be difficult to implement or enforce."
An OPM official said that banning smoking in open offices but allowing it to continue in private offices "smacks of elitism" because most of the private offices belong to bosses and upper-grade workers.
"Enforcement is another worry we have," an OPM official said. "We don't want to have to create a group of tobacco federales," or police, who would track down and discipline people caught smoking in no-smoking areas. He said OPM would prefer regulations that give managers authority to set no-smoking rules based on a consensus of affected employes.
Horner said that "only by relying on managerial discretion will we be able to avoid undue disruption to government operations, serious loss of employe productivity and alienation of a large segment of the federal work force." GSA officials said yesterday that they were still studying Horner's letter. Job Mart
Department of Education is looking for two GM 13 (merit pay) supervisory personnel staffing classification specialists. Call Edward Cook at 245-8248.
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General Accounting Office has an opening for a GS 7/9 writer-editor in its information management technology division. Call 275-6185.