Going for telework

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For all the talk about telework and mobile employees, most feds still work in offices.

According to a recent Office of Personnel Management report to Congress, 119,248 federal employees telework, based on 2005 data. That is about 6.6 percent of the 1.8 million federal employees, the report states.

Another statistic from the General Services Administration shows that only 4.2 percent of eligible federal workers telework one or more days each week. Regardless of the precise figures, the numbers are relatively low.

Given those numbers, GSA set an aggressive goal when it announced last week that 50 percent of its eligible employees will telework by 2010. In a speech at a Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting in Washington, GSA Administrator Lurita Doan said she wanted to set an ambitious goal.

About 10 percent of GSA’s eligible employees telework. The agency’s goal is to get that figure to 20 percent by the end of 2008, 40 percent by the end of 2009 and 50 percent by the end of 2010.

If GSA can accomplish that, it would be in a leadership position on telework. Other agencies have significant percentages of teleworkers, but they have fewer eligible employees. For example, nearly 55 percent of employees at the Consumer Product Safety Commission telework, according to OPM. However, the commission only has 375 employees. By contrast, according to the same OPM data, GSA has 12,480 employees eligible to telework.

Some people are skeptical about Doan’s telework goal, particularly because her tenure will end when the Bush administration leaves office Jan. 20, 2009 — a year before the goal’s 2010 deadline. But for other people listening to Doan, the announcement harkened back to the era of popular GSA Administrator David Barram, who set Flag Day 1996 as the date by which he wanted all GSA employees to have e-mail.

There are many telework issues ahead, but long-range goals — such as those Barram and Doan publicized — can be motivating.

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