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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Contact: Edmund Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Urges Agencies to Use Telework as a Key Component of Emergency Planning

Predicts the Number of Teleworkers will Continue to Increase

Washington, D.C. - During the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' Better Work Through Telework conference, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Abby Block spoke of the necessity of Telework during times of emergency, and the viability of Telework for those needing to work outside of the traditional business setting.

Opening her statement, Block addressed the importance OPM Director Kay Coles James places on keeping federal employees and their workplace safe during emergency situations and the role Telework plays in doing so. "Kay Coles James has noted the many reasons telework is an important and attractive work option for the federal government and its employees, and high on the list is the inclusion of Telework in planning for the continuation of government operations in the face of emergencies, be they natural or man-made. In order to accelerate progress toward the goals for federal agencies set in statute, which we fully support, OPM and GSA have sharpened Telework definitions to facilitate data collection and analysis and have expanded the guidance and tools available to federal managers and employees."

OPM has asked agencies to report telework participation in two categories: core (defined as regular and recurring on at least one day a week), and situational (defined as occasional, non-routine). OPM also has noted that many situational teleworkers actually telework quite frequently. Based on these data and informal discussions with employees and managers, OPM sees an opportunity to promote situational telework as a way to test the feasibility of more permanent arrangements.

"For those employees and managers who are not yet convinced that Telework works, Director James has asked us to encourage use of a two-step approach, with strong emphasis on moving quickly to an ongoing commitment," said Block. "We think this approach can increase both the number of teleworkers and the number of days federal employees telecommute."

In addition, Block said "GSA is offering federal employees a 60 day FREE trial use of telework centers in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area.

"This offer is available to federal employees who sign up between February 1 and March 31," said Block. For more details, log on to telework.gov and select telecenters or log on to www.wmtc.org for telework center contact information.

In closing, Block thanked the audience for their support of Telework and she noted the enthusiastic response Telework has received, and she encouraged the continued support for Telework programs "because we all benefit enormously from a successful outcome."

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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.


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