Telework remains out of reach for many feds, survey shows

Less than 10 percent of feds surveyed say they telework once per week

Despite a push from the Barack Obama administration to increase the number of federal employees that telework, those workers aren’t any happier with their agencies’ telework programs than they were in previous years, according to the results of a government survey released today.

About 35 percent of 172,843 federal employees said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” when asked to rate their agencies’ telework programs, according to results from the Office of Management and Budget’s 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint survey. That is down 39.9 percent from 2008 and 38.6 percent from 2006.

Nearly 23 percent of those employees said they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied,” while almost 42 percent responded that they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their agencies’ approach to telework. The percentages are based on findings from the surveys that have been weighted, or adjusted to represent the population from which the sample was taken, OPM said. The adjustments don't change a respondent's answer, but rather gives it the appropriate relative importance, OPM said.

Officials in the Obama and the George W. Bush administrations tried to expand the number of federal workers that telework, particularly in the Washington metropolitan area. Advocates for more federal teleworkers say the expansion would mean less traffic and air pollution, and more government readiness to continue working after a terrorist attack or natural disaster.


Related stories:

Telework improvements bill falls short in House vote

Telework: Senate gives unanimous thumbs up

OPM prods agencies to speed telework


In April 2009, the Obama administration advised agencies to increase federal teleworking opportunities by standardizing their policies, appointing telework managing officers and creating appeals processes for employees whose requests to telecommute are denied.

Less than 10 percent of the 247,268 feds who described their current teleworking situation said they telework at least one day per week. Twenty-three percent of those respondents said they didn’t telework because they weren’t allowed to, despite having jobs amenable to teleworking.

The survey is performed every two years and was administered to full-time, permanent employees of federal departments and agencies. Overall, of the 504,609 employees receiving surveys, 263,475 completed it, OPM said.

In a separate development, the House leadership is planning to debate a bill Wednesday that is designed to expand federal telework. In May, the House failed to pass the bill when it came up for a vote under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for approval. The Senate passed a similar measure.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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