Federal Employees’ Managers Still Discouraging Teleworking: Report

A report from the Government Accountability Office has found that federal employees’ managers still discourage employees from teleworking. Though the number of federal workers opting for telework has increased and there is an increase in federal employee resources like technological equipment that promotes telework, managers often think that teleworking will harm one’s performance. GAO report also found that there was a need to improve the records maintenance of telework data.  Maybe federal employees are more concerned with the many benefits, such as their federal annuities and the TSP, and nervous to make demands from the federal employee’s managers to provide them the the opportunity to telework, which is much more prevalent in today’s working world.

federal employees’ managers
A recent report by GAO clearly states that federal employees’ managers in many agencies are reluctant to let staff enjoy telework and its benefits.

Federal Employees’ Managers Discouraging Telework Despite an Increase in It

Telework has grown dramatically since the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act as 40 percent more workers took advantage of teleworking opportunities in fiscal 2015 as compared to three years earlier.

A new report by GAO clearly mentioned that though each agency had established the goals to increase the telework further, many of federal employees’ managers are yet to fully embrace the practice and they are demonstrating reluctance towards it.

The Reasons

For people who are wondering why federal employees’ managers and Agencies are not approving telework, there are several reasons for it. Some managers prefer to allow telework by favoritism while some need, or believe they need, in-person attendance for all the staff meetings rather than allowing employees to call in or setting up video conferencing. Some managers have also shown reluctance in approving unscheduled, situational telework based on unplanned events such as weather. A few managers even limited the number of days employees can opt for telework.

GAO report also states that the managers who do not fully support telework believe that it contributes to poorer performance as compared to employees who come to the office on a daily basis.

Reduction of Technological Barriers

Many agencies have made considerable progress in reducing the technological barriers that earlier prevented people from doing telework, said the auditors. But getting proper equipment remains an impediment for employees.

The Subjects

GAO based all its findings on a case study of four agencies, namely, Labor Department, Education Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and General Services Administration.

Lack of Training

In most of the cases, the agencies did not make it mandatory for the supervisors to complete a mandatory training before they began approving the telework agreements of the employees. This lack of training often prevented supervisors from understanding the goals & objectives of agencies concerning telework before signing off on all the agreements.

Lack of Reviews

GAO report also highlighted that nearly three-quarters of the Agencies looked at were not reviewing the telework agreements as intended. The auditors said that as the responsibilities of employees often keep on changing, agencies should ensure that the agreements are reviewed to make sure that they keep on addressing the current business needs. GAO said that unless all telework agreements are regularly reviewed, and the reviews are documented at regular intervals, the agencies will risk losing some of the most talented employees to the private sector.

The Positives

The GAO report also found some positive work done by the agencies. It said that all had successfully instituted several practices which were in compliance with the Telework statute. For instance, the agencies had adequate controls to make sure that telework did not diminish the performance of employees and organization and didn’t affect the expectations regarding employees’ performance. Agencies also met all requirements regarding setting up of agreements which included notifying all new hires regarding their eligibility to telework.

Severe Criticism

GAO criticized the agencies and the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the telework policy on a governmentwide basis because they failed to maintain proper telework data. For instance, The Labor Department is still using a manual entry system to report telework. Some agencies also rely on self-reporting that may lead to variance in what employees submit. GAO also exposed the fact that there were instances of inaccurate data in telework reporting done by OPM.

Key Recommendations Rejected

GAO has made a series of recommendations to both agencies. OPM has rejected the suggestions made by GAO by stating that it did not have the resources needed to create more tools that analyze the effectiveness of telework and to measure management resistance as well as other barriers to accelerating its use.  It also stated that it would refuse to verify the telework data it receives by saying it is up to individual agencies to report only accurate information.


It is quite clear from the GAO report that federal employees’ managers are not letting federal workers enjoy telework despite the availability of technological tools and various federal employee resources. Maybe most of the feds still don’t complain because they like the jobs and its benefits like annuities.

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