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Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management with partner agency General Services Administration yesterday promoted a newly improved web site dedicated to educating federal managers and employees about alternative work sites. OPM's Abby Block and GSA's Wendell Joice credited Congress for its leadership in support of federal telework programs.
The two officials said the telework web site (www.telework.gov) jointly administered by OPM and GSA will better connect employees and managers to telework subject areas and educate them on the nuances of performance monitoring, managerial involvement and other telework-related topics. New features include an enhanced "Q&A" section and refined definitions to maximize success.
Each official explained their respective agency's different, but complementary, roles aimed at convincing federal employees to telework, which allows employees to work at home or a satellite center several days each month.
In fact, Block said "OPM Director Kay Coles James telecommutes one day each month and wholly supports the practice." Block also noted James' intention to monitor feedback in the same way the agency is considering the input from users of OPM's newly revised USAJOBS web site which is used by job seekers to locate and apply for federal jobs.
"As with Director James' rollout of USAJOBS, we encourage federal employees and managers to give us feedback on the new web site so we can continue to update and add more features," said Block. "This web site is designed to be more user-friendly, and we will respond quickly to suggestions for changes or additions."
Together, OPM and GSA have worked closely with agencies and the offices of Congressman Frank Wolf and other congressional members in the Washington metropolitan area. Congress has provided funding for an ad campaign to promote telework as a 21st century concept and to boost participation.
For its part, GSA acquires and maintains off-site satellite facilities and office equipment to accommodate telecommuting federal employees.
"Telework agreements between federal employees and their managers are becoming more commonplace in Washington and other jurisdictions where traffic congestion is a nightmare," OPM Director Kay Coles James has said previously. "And with the backing of forward-thinking Members of Congress, I think an even greater number of employees will realize that telework can be a dream-come-true, as they will be able to spend less time on the road and more time with family and friends."
"GSA and OPM have a long history of cooperation," said Joice. "We're now developing a tool kit for telework coordinators for agencies with low (under 2 percent) participation rates. And we're both producing videos on different aspects of telework. We're taking a different approach on it; they won't be telework as usual."
Joice also added that GSA and OPM are co-sponsoring a presentation at the International Telework Association Conference next month in Baltimore.
Data collected by OPM last year through an annual telework survey of agency managers indicate that the number of federal employees who telework increased 21 percent to 90,010 in 2002, from 74,487 in 2001.
OPM's and GSA's ongoing work with agencies, stakeholders and telework experts also is largely responsible for an increase in the number of employees that managers report as eligible to make telework part of their routine. In 2002, 625,313 employees were said to be eligible for telework programs; in 2001, the number of employees eligible to telework was 521,542. A 2003 OPM telework survey will be issued soon to measure ongoing gains.
The agencies also announced an online telework training course that will be available in the coming months.
The online course, available through OPM's GOLEARN.gov e-training site, will assist employees in the development of telework plans which must be approved by their supervisors. The course also can help managers overcome fears that telework programs will diminish their authority and reduce employee productivity.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.