Letter: Performance monitoring is critical for efficient government teleworking programs

Regarding "Lawmakers push telework as overall participation drops," a reader writes: One of my Top 10 ways to triple the efficiency of the federal government is to stop and roll back telework.  I am sorry to see Congress meddling to push the opposite.

Trusting the feds to telework [is like trusting] the fox with the hen house. Most feds produce little of genuine value at the office, now they can do it remotely? Unlike private industry, the federal government has a hard time showing what it produces and holding employees and managers accountable for productivity. So who will know if the federal workforce is actually working more than [the] minimum at home or from remote locations? No one. This is asking for trouble.

In the private sector, if employees don't produce, they are canned. If the workforce doesn't produce, management gets canned or the company goes under. With feds there is no such accountability. Feds will crank up new offices in every subagency's IT structure to support these remotely comfortable civil servants. I worked for a telecom company. Telecom is the part of the private sector most like the fed. Telework there was heartily embraced by the workforce and grossly abused. Unfortunately, it was operationally expensive and maddeningly less effective.

I routinely heard things like this from teleworkers who bothered to answer the phone, "I can't see that database right now because IT hasn't come to my house and set me up yet. They won't get to it until June 15th. But I will send you the report next Tuesday when I am back in the office." By the way, that company went out of business. Agencies will just muddle on less effectively and more expensively. Their offices will remain heated and well lit on the taxpayers' dime. Ambitious teleworking feds will run side businesses, and the less so will catch Oprah at 10.

I am all for telework as good for business and the nation. But the government has a long way to go in performance monitoring before it can meaningfully partake.

Anonymous


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