Agencies cite technology as biggest barrier to telework

Limitations in the technology and cybersecurity used in federal telecommuting efforts are an impediment to agencies letting more employees work from home, according to a survey from the Office of Personnel Management.

The Transportation Department appropriations bill of 2000 required OPM to evaluate agency progress toward offering by 2004 all employees whose jobs fit the criteria the opportunity to telework. OPM delivered its report to Congress late last month.

The survey of 77 agencies' telework initiatives during the past year found that problems with systems and computer security had replaced management resistance and funding as the main reasons more employees don't telecommute. Management resistance and funding moved to the third and fourth most common barriers, respectively, OPM reported.

Overall, OPM said 90,010 employees, or about 5 percent of all feds, telework, up from 74,487 in 2001. The 21 percent increase can be attributed to more agencies establishing telecommuting policies, the report concluded. Last year, 63 agencies created strategies, up from five in 2001.

Agencies have offered about 68.5 percent of all eligible workers the opportunity to telecommute, which is above the congressionally mandated 50 percent goal set for this year, OPM director Kay Coles James said in a statement released with the report.

The survey also found employees at levels from GS-12 to GS-15 were the most common teleworkers.

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