• United States

GSA’s telework update

Mar 16, 20044 mins

* Agency’s telework boss Stanley Kaczmarczyk answers our questions

By the end of April, the Office of Personnel Management is expected to release to Congress its annual report on the state of telework in the federal government. Since we won’t get to see it until mid May, we turned to the General Services Administration’s telework boss Stanley F. Kaczmarczyk, for our own update of sorts.

Kaczmarczyk’s title isn’t actually “telework boss,” but director, Office of Real Property, Innovative Workplaces Division, Office of Governmentwide Policy, U.S. General Services Administration. Whew. Here’s what we learned, along with handy links to the original stories reporting on each topic.

Kistner: Of the $50K executive agencies are mandated to set aside for telework center use annually (Public Law 105-277), how much was actually spent last year?

Kaczmarczyk: Of the 20 agencies covered, 15 of them used the telework centers in 2003. Of the 15, seven of them spent at least $50K. That might not sound like good compliance, but it’s okay. I’m sure the agencies that aren’t participating, and those that aren’t spending the whole $50K, have a long list of reasons why telework centers aren’t the optimal solution. But everybody’s aware of it, we’re tracking the dollars and we do keep reminding those folks of the requirements. But keep in mind the way these laws are phrased; they typically say the money should be set aside, allocated, or should be made available. They don’t say “thou shalt spend $50K.” It’s never black and white, unfortunately.

Kistner: What is the status of the Web-based training being developed for teleworkers and their managers? Have the modules been developed, approved, activated? Will they be accessible from the Web site?

Kaczmarczyk: We have a strategic partnership with OPM to further telework in the federal government. We’ve been working with OPM and its contractor to develop the training, create content, and test the software. But all the mechanics and management of the project is the purview of OPM. They tell us the employee module should be live by March 12, with the manager module following a month after. Since the funding was made to OPM for federal workers specifically, you’ll probably need a .gov e-mail address to access the modules at the site. That would make sense. 

Kistner: What is the status of the recommendations in the Booz Allen Hamilton study on IT barriers to home-based work?

Kaczmarczyk: I’ll give you a general overview rather than go into specific recommendations. The main conclusion of the study – which Congress requested GSA to conduct – was that while there are technical issues hampering telework, there aren’t any technology barriers. We folded all the recommendations into our regular governmentwide program of education, guidance, leadership, urging, shaking by the shoulders. We try to get people to increase their telework implentations without actually having any authority to force them to do anything. Sometimes Congress has weighed in with legislation to try and help telework along. So we provided Congress this feedback and hopefully [the members] will find it useful. Obviously we can’t create legislation or go any further than to say this makes good business sense, to encourage it, and to help the agencies work through whatever issues they have on a case by case basis, whether it’s the technology, the mechanics of it, the culture change. We’re trying to move this forward in every way we can.