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Public Law 106-346 Section 359 (FY 2001 Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act) directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to compile information from an annual survey of Federal agencies on telework. This report outlines the findings of the 2004 telework survey and the continued growth of telework in the Federal Government.
The first telework survey was conducted in April 2001 and the second was conducted again that same year, in November. Since November 2001, the telework survey has been conducted annually. In 2004, the survey was sent to 86 agencies with 82 responding. The telework data collected from these 82 agencies represent more than 1.7 million Federal workers. As a result of the survey, our findings show the number of eligible teleworkers and teleworking employees continues to grow. In 2004, 140,694 employees teleworked, representing a 37% increase from 2003. This growth demonstrates a steady escalation over time as the overall number of teleworkers in the Federal Government has grown since 2001 with 72,844 teleworkers, in 2002 with 90,010 teleworkers, and in 2003 with 102,921 teleworkers. More than half of the agencies reporting in 2004 show an increase over 2003 in the number of teleworkers. Of the agencies responding to the survey, 85 percent have a telework policy in place and over 40 percent of agencies either provide employees with equipment to telework or share in the cost of the equipment.
The data collection process and survey instrument have generally remained unchanged over the past 5 years. However, 2 questions were added to the 2004 survey: One on eligibility and another on Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning. The COOP question was incorporated into the survey because of the symbiotic relationship between COOP and telework. Many government operations that must be carried out during emergency situations can be accomplished through the use of telework. Currently, 35 agencies have incorporated telework as part of their COOP initiatives, and another 37 indicated that it is under consideration for inclusion in their plans.
As partners in telework, OPM and General Services Administration (GSA) play an important role in providing Federal agencies with telework guidance and resources. The joint OPM/GSA website (www.telework.gov)--used frequently by agencies and coordinators--showcases telework laws, policies, and telework centers; and provides guidance for coordinators. In terms of training resources, the USALearning website (www.usalearning.gov) offers telework courses for managers and employees. Webinars offer a unique interactive venue for highlighting the benefits of resolving the problems associated with telework. These short, informative sessions are facilitated by a telework expert. Additionally, quarterly meetings conducted by OPM/GSA exclusively for agency telework coordinators stress current legislation and topics of concern, allow sharing of agency best practices, and are used as discussion forums for future initiatives.
The success of Federal telework is evidenced by yearly increases in the numbers of Federal employees utilizing telework to meet agency human capital goals. Through continued development of tools and resources, and the heightened focus on the integration of telework and COOP, it is anticipated that telework will continue to advance. To this end, OPM, with the assistance of GSA, is well poised and committed to support and develop successful strategies to increase telework utilization.