Federal Manager's Daily Report

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In a blog posting, the GAO has said that its latest report on telework in the federal workforce identified a general challenge to agencies as “replicating the office environment.”

“For example, we were told that things like hiring, conducting security checks, and mail delivery were all more challenging in an enhanced telework environment. Agencies also faced initial challenges including IT equipment shortages, lack of training, and limited network capacity,” it said.

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Those issues arose as agencies used telework at record levels. Among the two dozen agencies it studied, GAO said, at some telework comprised more than 80 percent of of total work time, while at its peak a majority of those agencies had at least a quarter of teleworking employees doing so full time.

While the frequency and amount of telework has declined since then, it remains historically high and agencies are making long-term plans including “increasing the number of telework days for eligible employees and assessing agencies’ physical office space and workforce needs.  For example, agencies are assessing how an increase in telework and remote work will affect facilities and infrastructure.”

However, it again said that OPM needs to improve how telework data are gathered and reported, which would “ provide more accurate and useful information to Congress, and set the stage for a future that could involve more telework across the government.”

It suggested that Congress may need to step in and order OPM to carry out recommendations from prior GAO reports on telework. Those include “consistently monitoring error reports, integrating payroll data into more of databases, and strengthening internal control activities.”

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