The Obama administration’s “first comprehensive view of telework practices across the entire federal government since the enactment of the Telework Enhancement Act” presents a mixed bag.
In the introduction to the report, released Friday by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM Director John Berry said agencies representing more than 99 percent of the federal workforce have included telework “as a critical component of their agency Continuity of Operations Plans,” which would be used to keep the government operating “through hazardous weather, pandemic or physical attacks that would result in the closure of Government buildings.”
Also, OPM said agencies have notified employees of their telework eligibility and have designated a telework management officer.
Yet, a long-standing problem remains. “Not all managers are comfortable directing employees who telework,” Berry wrote.
The telework law took effect in December 2010. It was designed to foster a more consistent and systematic program for telecommuting across the government.
Although a great deal of attention has been paid to the benefits of teleworking for federal employees, less than a third are eligible to telework, according to the report. Of those eligible, 21 percent have a telework agreement in place.
“[A]s often happens when innovations are introduced, Federal telework faces barriers to full implementation,” the report says. “Asked to describe ongoing challenges, several agencies reported resistance among key stakeholders (e.g., managers) as well as technology and security concerns.”
But, Berry said, “overall, the use of telework is improving in the federal government.”