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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 9, 2013
December 9, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 21 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com among agencies and organizations. The Town Hall Meeting is an all-day, profes- sional-education training seminar that explores key areas to improve government mobility and workforce management best practices. Our annual Telework Week is a global initiative encouraging agencies, organizations and individuals to pledge to telework during one week a year. Telework Week 2014 will be held March 3-7. The initiative brings awareness to the progress of telework and provides organizations an opportunity to expand and test their IT infrastructures. Some studies---and articles reporting on them---have noted that the numbers of feds who telework is not all that high. This low participation in many agencies is holding back any overall documentable returns on telework, or ROI, for the federal government. Can you give me a couple of examples of these slow-to-improve agen- cies and describe their problems? And can you give me counter-examples---of agen- cies that are not dragging their heels? Auten: GAO's recent report on fed- eral real property reviewed five agen- cies---General Services Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives---that are either exploring or actually taking actions [to make improvements in telework use], such as increasing telework participation or implementing a hoteling program to reduce their space needs. The report noted that beyond USPTO, the agencies reviewed have not yet realized space reductions or cost savings because their efforts are too new. Agencies must examine how their space is being used in order to determine future needs and to gain management and employee support to facilitate the accep- tance of mobility initiatives. Of those, which federal agency is doing the best in expanding telework? Auten: USPTO is the leading author- ity for other agencies who are develop- continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4 ing their telework programs. The agency's 2012 Telework Annual Report noted that more than 7,500 employees were working from home at least one day a week---and in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, more than 4,000 employees worked from home between four and five days per week, while 3,000 teleworked one to three days per week. USPTO implemented the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program (TEAPP) and continues to expand its hoteling pro- gram. The agency also distributed the Universal Laptop (UL) to all employees, both teleworks and non-teleworkers, to eliminate the need to duplicate equipment for remote employees. USPTO continues to see excellent ROI with its telework pro- gram, both monetarily and with recruit- ment and retention. Do you think that---despite this some- times needlessly slow development pro- cess---that telework is actually saving the federal government some real estate costs already? The question arises because some auditors and writers say we can't prove these real estate savings. Auten: Absolutely. A great example of actual real estate savings is that of USPTO. February's 2012 Telework Annual Report indicated savings of $17 million in real estate costs as a direct result of the Patent Hoteling Program (PHP). While these sav- ings are solely associated with the PHP, USPTO has several hoteling programs, all of which yield real estate savings. It's about getting the right timing to see the real estate savings---are you in a situation now where you can give up space, or will that time come a few years down the road? Regardless of your leasing requirements, by putting telework into place now, when the time comes, you'll be better prepared to give up your real estate down the road. What's next? Any new reports or devel- opments as we close out 2013? Any news on telework? Auten: We have much to look forward to in telework and mobility. This Dec. 9 marks the three-year anniversary of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 and we expect OPM's 2013 Status of Telework in the Federal Government, which pro- vides insight on agencies' progress since the enactment of the law, to be released this year. And next year Mobile Work Exchange will host Telework Week 2014, March 3-7, and the 2014 Town Hall Meeting, April 10. We also look forward to USPTO's fis- cal 2013 Performance and Accountability Report and the Digital Government Strategy two-year anniversary in May 2014. So that's where the reports and events are---but what's been going on with federal legislation regarding Telework? Auten: We haven't seen much move- ment on telework legislation. However following the shutdown, Congress intro- duced the Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act---a bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide employees in the private sector with an opportunity for compensatory time off, similar to the opportunity offered to federal employees, and a flexible credit hour pro- gram to help balance the demands of work and family, and for other purposes. APWU pans USPS retail partner pilot A labor leader last month characterized a U.S. Postal Service pilot program to put postal retail units in Staples stores across the country as "a huge step toward priva- tizing retail services." "This is a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services," American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein said in a bulletin on the union's website. The first of 84 pilot retail sites began opening in the stores of the office supply
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Dec 16, 2013