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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Berry Drives Plan to Increase Telework among Federal Employees

Advisory group would set standards; Telework Manager serves each agency

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry today announced a comprehensive plan to jumpstart agency telework programs out of a plodding first gear into a cruising fifth gear, giving tens-of-thousands more Federal employees nationwide the opportunity to leave their cars at home, and work from home. Today, only 5 percent of the nation's 1.9 million Federal employees telework.

Berry's plan to substantially increase telework participation consists of five components that, when taken together, form the basis for establishing effective telework programs that can be tailored to each agency's unique culture. While promoting the general efficiency of operations, viable telework programs have long been suggested as an important feature of agency Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plans, as they can be implemented in short order during a national health or weather emergency.

Aside from their value during emergencies, telework programs - which typically allow employees to work from home one or two days each week on a regular basis - improve employee morale and productivity.

"I'm here to put some giddy-yap into telework," said Berry. "I was raised in the D.C. metropolitan area, so I know a little something about the traffic congestion that frustrates commuters and saps them of energy even before they get to the office. With a sensible approach to creating model telework programs, thousands more employees will work from home one or two days each week on a regular basis - and thousands fewer will be on the road. Gone will be the anxieties of commuting for these folks, and they will ‘show up for work' refreshed and ready to go. Taxpayers will benefit; and with less commuting time, employees will have additional quality hours to spend with their families and friends, or to pursue outside interests."

Increased adoption of telework in Federal offices across the country, particularly in major metropolitan areas with large concentrations of employees, would have tremendous economic and social value. These programs would enable the uninterrupted delivery of government services if employees were instructed to work from home due to natural disaster or conditions that threaten human health, including concerns related to the spread of influenza. To facilitate agency business during emergencies, managers have authority to implement new telework agreements to the fullest extent possible.

The components of Berry's plan are drawn from two bills which have been introduced in Congress: H.R. 1722, the "Telework Improvements Act of 2009," introduced by Representative John Sarbanes (MD), and co-sponsored by Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA), Danny Davis (IL), Stephen Lynch (MA), Jim Moran (VA), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD), and Frank Wolf (VA); and, the "Telework Enhancement Act of 2009" (S.707), introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka and co-sponsored by Senator George Voinovich (OH). Berry has expressed his gratitude to those Members for their strong and consistent support of telework in the Federal Government.

Berry's plan would:

  • convene an advisory group of telework program managers to draw on their knowledge and expertise in formulating standards for telework policies
  • direct agencies to submit telework policies for review against a set of standards crafted by the advisory group; OPM would provide technical assistance to help agencies meet the standards; OPM also would review the standards every three years to ensure continued adherence to the standards
  • encourage each agency to establish the position of Telework Managing Officer, who would ensure telework policies are applied fairly and supported by agency managers
  • encourage agencies to establish an effective and transparent appeals process for employees whose requests for telework or other flexible work arrangements are denied
  • assure the provision of high-quality, broadly accessible training to remove managerial resistance to having staff work "out of sight" and to ensure managers and employees alike are trained and prepared to use telework successfully

In 2008, according to data OPM has collected from agencies:

  • nearly 103,000 employees (5.25 percent of the federal workforce) at 78 agencies teleworked (this is an increase from 94,643 teleworkers in 2007)
  • 44 agencies (56 percent) have fully integrated telework into COOP

Data about OPM employees show:

  • 807 employees had telework agreements with their managers in 2008, up from 774 in 2007
  • 177 of the teleworking employees worked from home 3 days per week in 2008, down from 328 who worked from home 3 days per week in 2007
  • telework has been integrated into the agency's COOP Plans
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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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