The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is taking a closer look at how accurate the telework reporting is for federal agencies.
OPM recently sent out a memorandum requesting agencies to work with human resources and telework managers to audit their telework reports, in order to “determine any potential issues that may be affecting data reporting and accuracy.” Government officials have touted how telework saves money, but with data collection efforts diminishing, that’s a harder benefit to prove.
“OPM has discovered telework data collection and reporting remains an area of challenge for agencies,” said Mark Reinhold, OPM chief human capital officer, in the memo.
Because of this, the OPM will initiate a series of agency meetings with HR Directors, Telework Managing Officers (TMOs), and payroll providers to identify better ways to ensure accurate data reporting for teleworkers. These meeting will inform the OPM if it needs to issue more telework guidance for agencies, or work with individual agencies, Reinhold said.
Telework data will be collected by the OPM on a biweekly and monthly basis through the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) system status and payroll data feeds. The agency said it will meet congressional requirements to report agency data from EHRI, which is required by the Telework Act of 2010.
OPM’s focus on telework reporting followed a recent Government Accountability Office study, which found numerous benefits of telework for agencies that reported telework data, yet few agencies were actually reporting the data.
GAO to OPM: Show Us the Money (Savings)
“GAO found substantial declines in agency reporting of telework cost savings to OPM,” the study’s authors stated. “For example, in 2012, agencies reported 66 examples of telework cost savings, but a year later they reported 29 examples.”
The GAO has an extensive and successful telework program, allowing employees to telework for up to half of their working time, said Ron La Due Lake, president of the GAO Employees Organization.
“It’s grown into an ongoing, very robust measurement process that’s primarily survey based, but not exclusively,” La Due Lake said. “For example, in the first iteration of this, they just surveyed staff who were on the mission products … on quality, time.”
The recent GAO study found that the General Services Administration reduced its office space by 40 percent while renovating its headquarters, saving $24.6 million annually in rent, which was due in part to telework. The Department of Agriculture said it saved $10 million from 2011 through 2015 based on utilities cost, transit subsidies and employee retention.