Originally published: July 25, 2011
Last updated: July 25, 2011 - 3:25pm
Governmentwide guidance on telework does not clearly or comprehensively instruct agencies on incorporating the practice into their emergency planning, according to a new report.
Four agencies provide guidance on telework during emergencies: the Office of Personnel Management, the General Services Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Protective Service. None of the guidance, however, contains a standard definition of how to incorporate telework in individual agency continuity of operations plans or provides "a cohesive set of practices" that agencies can adopt, the Government Accountability Office found. The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act requires agencies to fold their telework policies into their continuity and emergency plans. "This lack of a definition or description calls into question the reliability of the results of a survey OPM annually conducts to assess agencies' progress [on telework]," the report stated. GAO identified other potential problems with the government's telework capabilities in an emergency in the areas of information technology, personnel readiness and program monitoring. Federal wireless networks are increasingly vulnerable to attack, GAO said, and a 2009 review from the watchdog found that, in an emergency where 40 percent or more of the population was absent from school or work, most residential users including federal teleworkers would experience congestion on the Internet.
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