Telework website updated

Joint GSA-OPM site

Officials from the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management today introduced an updated version of their telecommuting Web site.

The new www.telework.gov, was launched this morning. Officials hope it will remove past confusion and provide clearer information for federal employees. The site now features an updated frequently asked question and answer section, as well as sharpened definitions related to telework initiatives. "We've been responsive in every way we possibly can to meet the agencies' needs," said Abby Block, deputy associate director for employee and family support at OPM.

The launch comes just days after a General Accounting Office report cited several shortcomings in the agencies' telework efforts, including a lack of coordination between the GSA and OPM. The GAO report found that of 25 key telework practices, GSA had failed to implement seven, while OPM had not implemented three.

However, representatives from both agencies downplayed the perceived friction between the two departments, and stated that the new launch was not in direct response to the GAO report.

"GSA and OPM have a long history of cooperation, and we feel very comfortable in our relationship," Block said.

The most recent survey shows more than 90,000 federal workers participate in teleworking, Block said. This figure represents approximately five percent of the total federal workforce, and a 21 percent increase over the past year.

Aside from the improved website, Block listed additional OPM initiatives for improving telework. Chief among these is a free e-training telework course for federal managers and employees on the www.golearn.gov training site. Block stated that OPM plans to have this site operational within "the next few months."

Block also promoted OPM's development of a new teleworks toolkit for coordinators. The toolkit will be primarily for coordinators at agencies with less than two percent of employees involved in telework.

Likewise, GSA officials stated future plans to coincide with OPM's improvements. Wendell Joice, government-wide telework team leader for GSA, cited the agency's development of a teleworks video to be aired in October. Joice also said that to better coordinate efforts between the two agencies, a "memorandum of understanding" is in the development phase. According to Joice, this document will better delineate the roles of each agency in the teleworks effort.

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