OPM, GSA mull telework policies

The Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration

are reviewing agencies' telework policies in an overall effort to increase

its use in government.

In a memorandum issued earlier this month, GSA Administrator David Barram

and OPM Director Janice Lachance asked agencies to identify telework problem

areas that "could benefit from policy clarification and/or revision." GSA

and OPM are leading an interagency effort to develop new policies that will

encourage the use of telework.

The review is timely, Barram and Lachance said. Agencies are allowing

more employees to work outside the office and, as a result, have more questions

regarding telework policy issues. The memo asks agencies to detail any problems

associated with developing or operating their telework programs.

GSA and OPM have been examining agencies' telework policies since last

year to see whether existing workplace guidelines adequately support agencies'

telework programs, according to Wendell Joice, who heads up telework and

workplace initiatives in GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy.

Concerns about pay and other issues made it clear "that numerous federal

workplace policies needed to be revised and/or clarified in view of the

advance of telework," Joice wrote in a recent report.

Despite efforts by GSA, OPM, the Transportation Department, Congress

and others to jump-start telework in government, it has been slow to take

off. Recent estimates show that around 25,000 federal employees work from

their homes or a telecommuting center — a figure that falls well short of

the goal of 60,000 the government hoped to reach by the end of fiscal 1998.

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