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11/16/2011
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Fed Agency Telecommuting Policies: Too Many Unfinished

A new survey shows that while federal agency managers and staff support telecommuting, a lack of agency policies is slowing actual progress.

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Although nearly a year has passed since President Obama signed a federal law mandating that agency officials put policies and infrastructure in place to support teleworking, many federal employees whose managers trust them to telework still aren't doing so, according to a new survey.

The Obama administration passed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 in December, and federal agencies were to create telework policies and designate a managing officer with direct access to a top agency official to oversee telework programs.

Although some progress has been made on this front, many believe that there still aren't solid practices in place to support federal teleworking, according to the "Telework 2011: Federal Government and Industry Outlook on Telework" survey by FedScoop.

FedScoop surveyed more than 300 IT executives from the federal government and private sector for the survey, which was sponsored by HP and Intel.

[Federal teleworkers must follow rules on protecting wireless and other communications. See Feds Issue Government Teleworker Security Guidelines.]

According to the report, 90% of federal managers said they trusted their employees to work remotely, but only 61% of respondents said their managers were allowing them to do so.

The disconnect seems to be in agencies being slow to establish telework policies, said Goldy Kamali, founder and president of FedScoop, in a press statement.

"The results of the survey showed us that although government managers report trusting their employees to work remotely, the practices aren't necessarily in place to make this possible," he said. "Overall, most respondents felt that government teleworking policies should be progressing at a faster rate."

Indeed, 69% of federal employees surveyed said that telework process is not moving fast enough. Moreover, 43% of federal employees that responded to the survey said that their agency doesn't give them the technology necessary to support teleworking. Only 13% of private-sector respondents said the same.

And while three of four federal respondents said that their agency has already designated a telework coordinator, only 56% of them said they'd met the person in charge of making telework possible for them.

Even if progress is moving slowly, there is still great enthusiasm among federal employees for teleworking, according to the survey. Ninety-one percent of federal employees surveyed are interested in teleworking, while 97% of them said they would like to engage in the practice. Ninety-six percent of federal workers surveyed said they have favorable views of teleworking.

Our annual Federal Government IT Priorities Survey shows how agencies are managing the many mandates competing for their limited resources. Also in the new issue of InformationWeek Government: NASA veterans launch cloud startups, and U.S. Marshals Service completes tech revamp. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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