As many of you have heard in recent forums, GAO management has indicated its hesitation to implement expanded telework in headquarters. A number of explanations for this have been offered, including the findings presented in the recent Evaluation of GAO’s Telework Program Report [DM]. In addition to positive findings, the survey results on informal interactions and collaboration presented in this report were generally more negative or very negative about the impact of telework for respondents who telework once a month, or less, compared with those who telework more than once a month and for senior executives responding to the survey (see Table 4, p.11). The survey results also included generally more negative or very negative views from managers who responded from headquarters relative to managers in the field offices—in contrast to those respondents who were not ADs or SES. The views measured in the survey included the “ability to mentor and coach employees”; “general accessibility to others”; and the “ability to obtain help for quick turnaround work” (see Table 5, p.12).
There was also extensive media coverage in the summer of 2014 of potential telework fraud at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO), including in the Washington Post. Hearings were conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary Committees and an independent review was done by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) at the request of the USPTO. The report of NAPA’s review concluded that time & attendance abuse related to telework “was not widespread or unique to teleworkers” and recommended that “USPTO should continue its Telework and Hoteling Programs” while strengthening certain management practices (Executive Summary, p.4).
The GAO Employees Organization reached an agreement with GAO management well over two years ago that assured that expanded telework will be negotiated for employees at headquarters by providing provisions for some of the basic terms of expanded telework. One of the terms included was the 14-hour per pay period minimum reporting requirement to the office for those who voluntarily elect to participate in expanded telework at headquarters, as is the case in the agreement covering the program for employees in the field offices.
On a related note, the GAO telework survey is currently open until November 5 (for more information, see this GAO Notice [GAO Intranet]). GAO management will be using the results of this survey as part of the ongoing evaluation of telework at GAO, including expanded telework. We encourage all employees to complete this survey and provide your feedback and positive experiences.
The GAO Employees Organization is committed to establishing comparable flexibilities for employees in headquarters that are valued by our colleagues in the field offices. We are pushing to implement expanded telework as fairly and promptly as possible. We also acknowledge the complicated logistical challenges of relocating multiple employees and their workspaces to allow GAO to consolidate headquarters space and use it more efficiently, including providing for additional tenants. We will provide further updates and welcome your input and reaction to this challenging process.