Telework can help recruit and retain a qualified federal workforce, enhance their productivity and flexibility; and reduce real estate, energy, environmental, and other costs.
Congress has encouraged federal agencies to expand their use of telework by requiring that executive agencies establish telework policies, incorporate those policies into continuity of operations plans, and provide interactive telework training to employees and managers.
The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires executive agencies to develop a policy under which eligible employees may be authorized to telework. The act also requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to report annually to Congress on the telework programs of each agency.
OPM officials significantly revised a survey it has used since 2002 to reflect program parameters and measures outlined in the act. OPM assisted agencies in responding to the survey and believe they provided to Congress an improved annual report on telework in June 2012. However, since the form of the data call used in 2011 differs from prior data calls, the telework program results presented in the annual report are not directly comparable to data from previous years and across agencies.
Future data call improvement efforts could result in a trade-off between the desire for maintenance of a consistent data series over time for comparison with previous data calls and a need to improve data collection. Going forward, we recommended that OPM (1) clearly report reliability limitations with the 2011 telework data call in its June 2012 report to Congress, and (2) continue efforts to improve data collection and gather information to allow for the appropriate qualification of year-to-year comparisons and inform users about the effects of data collection changes.
OPM generally agreed and said it will continue to address data reliability issues through training on evaluation and measurement. OPM also noted its continued plans to automate the collection of telework data, and to regularly meet with telework managing officers and coordinators to keep them updated on changes to telework policy and data collection.
GAO-12-519, Apr 19, 2012
GAO-11-628, Jul 22, 2011
GAO-07-1002T, Jun 12, 2007
GAO Mission and Operations
GAO-13-3SP, Feb 15, 2013
GAO-12-748, Jul 25, 2012
GAO Telework Report
GAO-12-777SP, Jun 28, 2012
Highlights of a Forum
GAO-11-81SP, Oct 5, 2010
GAO-10-8, Oct 26, 2009
GAO-09-783T, Jun 16, 2009