GSA releases telework guidelines

Telework guidelines from GSA

In a continuing effort to promote telework, the General Services Administration released new technical guidelines for agencies to follow as they oversee off-site work.

In a Federal Register notice issued March 2, GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy offered advice for agencies to use information technology and communications efficiently and effectively, and comply with teleworking laws.

Under the new guidelines, agencies can provide employees with supplies for teleworking, such as computers, printers, copy machines, scanners and fax machines. In addition, teleworkers may use “alternative worksite equipment and associated technical support for continuity of operations,” and agencies can lend teleworkers equipment that has been updated as a part of the department’s technology refresh cycle.

The guidelines also state that appropriated funds may be used to provide teleworkers with telephone and Internet lines, and to pay for installation costs, equipment costs, usage fees and service charges for connectivity. Agencies also can let teleworkers access secure information, such as schedules, budget analyses and other systems, as necessitated by specific tasks.

In addition, GSA said teleworkers “should receive adequate training on the use of IT systems and applications needed for effective job performance,” which includes security training. Agencies also should provide “adequate and effective help-desk support for teleworkers” and require help-desk workers to know how to address remote access hardware and software problems.

Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring agencies to allow eligible employees to telework, but according to a 2005 survey by the Office of Personnel Management, only 19 percent of eligible employees do their work remotely.

GSA also has worked to promote teleworking in recent years, but it has had little success. Its latest attempt was at the end of January, when it offered agency managers, supervisors and senior executives a chance to sample teleworking for free at any of the 14 GSA-sponsored centers through Sept. 30.

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