The GAO has raised issues with controls over telework at the Coast Guard following its pandemic-related expansion of telework for personnel not in positions that required their physical presence at the worksite.
The agency—whose staffing is a mix of civilian, full-time uniformed and Reserve uniformed personnel—“lacks controls to ensure that teleworking personnel have valid and current telework agreements in place,” said a report. Further, the Coast Guard “modified its personnel system to allow personnel to self-report and update their COVID-19 and telework statuses” but GAO found they were “not reliable due to missing data and concerns about accuracy.”
“In particular, Coast Guard officials could not provide assurance or evidence that weekly audits purposefully designed to verify the accuracy and completeness of these data were being conducted. Without such assurance, the Coast Guard may be relying on inaccurate and incomplete information when making decisions that rely on these data, such as for assessing its operational readiness,” it said.
GAO also found that the Coast Guard experienced other issues common among agencies early in the pandemic, including challenges with information technology system functionality, initial shortages of personal protective equipment, and ensuring that personnel continued to receive training and on-the-job experience.
It said that the Coast Guard’s parent DHS agreed with recommendations that the agency ensure that employees have valid telework agreements in place, that the agreements are reviewed at least annually, and that weekly audits are conducted to verify the status of personnel.