GSA–which along with OPM is largely responsible for the telework program government-wide–needs to strengthen the controls over its own program, an IG audit has said.
The GSA is one of the leading adopters of telework, with 78 percent of its employees having charged time to telework in a recent one-year period and with 86 percent having approved telework agreements. Both figures are well above government-wide numbers reported in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and annual OPM reports on telework participation.
However, the audit found that: GSA does not know the number of virtual employees it has; some virtual employee work arrangements were not fully approved; travel costs related to virtual work were not assessed annually; official duty stations were incorrect for some virtual employees; hours were not accurately reported; controls over transit subsidies need to be stronger; and many GSA teleworkers have not taken the required training.
One issue, it said, is that the agency has not fully implemented a new human resources information technology software solution that would better track telework; it was supposed to be operational in fiscal 2017 but the new estimated completion date is December 2018. “As a result, GSA has been manually reviewing virtual employees’ duty stations and collecting or remitting amounts owed. The manual review is tedious and only performed every 2 years,” the report said.
Also, it said, GSA has not issued a promised new instructional letter to improve the program, nor has it updated its telework training to incorporate enhancements in timekeeping.