The Government Accountability Office has found the Office of Personnel and Management’s tools for measuring federal telework to be inaccurate, GCN reports.
OPM had set a goal to increase the level of federal teleworkers by 50 percent but officials have been unable to measure the initiative success as of yet, GAO found.
OPM is planning to test an automated system that would gather telework data from agencies to judge the initiative’s success instead of the current method, where agencies submit estimates.
OPM will pilot its automated data collection from agency human resource systems this year and expects to have a fully automated system by 2013.
The GAO said OPM will find it difficult to compare data gathered with the new system with previous years, as is required under the Telework Enhancement Act.
That law requires agencies to identify employees eligible for telework and encourage those eligible to take advantage in order to increase efficiency and job satisfaction while reducing cost.
The Agriculture Department is aiming to have 40 percent of its staff teleworking by 2013.
GAO said OPM officials have noted that the new reporting system could limit OPM’s ability to assess agencies’ telework progress.
The report said several years could pass before the measurements carry any weight.
OPM has collected information about telework for Congress each year since 2002.
OPM’s report in 2011 found 5.72 percent of federal employees were teleworking three days a week in 2009 and 22 percent were teleworking to some extent.
OPM said the existing measurement methods, which vary greatly, mar accurate judgment of whether telework has actually increased, GAO reports.
Measurement for telework participation is currently handled at the each individual agency, said Angela Bailey, OPM’s associate director of employee service.
The quality of data suffers since only a selected number of agency personnel are trained to correctly evaluate data and methodology for telework adaption, Bailey said.
OPM is scheduled to submit its telework report to Congress in June, which will be based on standardized definitions, more clear surveys and additional information, the report said.
OPM expects next year’s report to be more accurate since the new measurement standards will have time to be implemented.