Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Eye Opener: Talking telework

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! After four straight snow days, now seems as good a time as any to talk seriously about teleworking options for federal workers.

"About one-third of the D.C. area employees at the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration logged on to their agencies' mainframe computers, probably from their homes," The Post's Joe Davidson writes today. "If the stats for those agencies are indicative of what happened around town, then the blizzard of 2010 may mark a real turning point in Uncle Sam's approach to telework."

"About 103,000 -- or almost 9 percent -- of eligible federal employees telecommuted in 2008, which was an improvement from the year before," according to The Post's Nicole Norfleet.

It's hard to find a fed who disagrees with the concept -- not because it keeps workers away from office politics and the boss, but because they seem to realize it increases their personal productivity.

But as many readers pointed out on Wednesday and in today's Post, the benefit doesn't extend to most contractors and is impractical for workers dealing with sensitive information.

Expanding teleworking seems easy, but in reality will take some time to spread across the government. So what's a good first step?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Chat with John Berry: The director of the Office of Personnel Management takes your questions at 11 a.m. ET. Submit your questions here.

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet today with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Geithner showed up for work in jeans on Wednesday.) Biden tells CNN's Larry King: "I like Sarah Palin." The State Department's Bill Burns headed to Lebanon and Syria.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT:
Once stigmatized, food stamps find acceptance: After a U-turn in the politics of poverty, food stamps, a program once scorned as “welfare,” enjoys broad new support.

CENSUS BUREAU:
New option for the states on inmates in the Census: In May 2011, in time for Congressional and legislative reapportionment, the bureau will identify exactly where group quarters like prisons are and how many people occupy them. States would then have the option of counting them in the local population or not.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Left frets over fate of 'Don't Ask': House Democratic leadership aides are growing increasingly worried over the lack of a detailed White House road map for passing a repeal -- and that without such a road map, repeal will end up in the same kind of Senate gridlock that hobbled health reform.

Army study explores deployment stress on soldiers' children: The study reinforces much of the conventional wisdom regarding stress and deployments, but it also breaks new ground, mainly in finding no clear link between the number of deployments soldiers undertake and the level of stress their children experience.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
Court to DOJ: Can’t deport over nude dancing: Nude dancing is not necessarily a crime of "moral turpitude" warranting deportation, a divided federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled.

NASA:
Obama overhauls NASA's agenda in budget request: The president hasn't actually spoken a word in public about his new strategy for the agency. Instead, the dramatic change in direction was folded into Obama's 2011 budget request.

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION:
Snow collapses Smithsonian storage warehouse: Security officials discovered the damaged storage building early Wednesday at the Garber Facility, one of several Smithsonian facilities designed to hold items for the Air and Space Museum while they are being prepared for display, or for long-term storage.

TSA:
College student sues U.S. for detainment at Pennsylvania airport: Nicholas George charged that three Transportation Security Administration officers, two Philadelphia police officers and two FBI agents violated his constitutional rights to free speech and freedom from unreasonable seizure.

Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter | Submit your news tips here

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 11, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Federal government shutdown extends to Thursday
Next: OPM's John Berry: President's Day holiday not cancelled

Comments

first?

Posted by: jacket96 | February 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I am a federal employee and I teleworked everyday while the government was closed. I can attest that everyone in my office also teleworked and we were in contact with each other throughout the closure.

So when OPM reports the cost of lost productivity due to the gov't being closed, do they account for teleworkers who continue to be productive? I doubt it.

Posted by: RunSlow | February 11, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Your list of potential "first steps" did not include improving our IT infrastructure to allow secure remote access for the greatest number of employees. This is an important problem for my agency, and serves to limit telework and to reduce the productivity of those who telework occasionally. The required investment pales in comparison to the productivity gains it would allow at times like these.

Posted by: Maureen8 | February 11, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised the much mentioned $100 million dollars lost per day the government is closed number wasn't thrown about today. I wonder if it because that number seems more and more inaccurate in light of the fact that many employees worked from home.

Regarding telework, in April 2009 OPM announced a new telework plan for the government. Two telework related bills were also introduced in 2009. The idea of expanding telework is not new. It would be nice if the Federal Eye could give some background on previous efforts and where things stand with those bills.

Perhaps this storm will help lend urgency and make implementing already existing telework policy a higher priority for some managers.

Posted by: annapolitangrl | February 11, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I think if OPM drafted some guidelines on what jobs were conducive to either full time or part time telework, my fellow managers would probably be more flexible. I encourage telework as much as I can, but I have noticed that my more productive employees generally don't telework, and my less productive employees are always pushing for it. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Posted by: signof4 | February 11, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Establishing federal guidelines should be the 1st step.

There are MANY federal employees like myself who can NOT telework due to the issues that we deal with and their sensitivity. So, I can't telework.

But, to those that can...it still sounds like people are unsure what they can do, when they can, where, etc....so, I say start small right now and establish actual/concrete guidelines

Posted by: Bious | February 11, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

There is no need for me to go in tomorrow since we have been off the last 4 days.

What I have to work on can wait another 4 days for my return.


I plan to take unscheduled leave tomorrow.

Posted by: K2007 | February 11, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company