Federal Employees News Digest

Agencies report relatively smooth journey to maximum telework

Despite plans to incrementally bring workers back to the office, federal agencies still expect to allow at least some part of their workforces to continue to work remotely due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Thomas Ashley, the director of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's IT Services Development and Operations Division, said during a recent FCW-hosted webinar that prior to the COVID-19 crisis, 98% of agency employees worked onsite within an office, but that after the federal government moved to maximum telework, the number of remote users skyrocketed to 45%, necessitating some changes.

Thanks to the NRC's quick adaptation, 98% of the workforce now teleworks, with only those employees who need to access classified materials remaining onsite.

Other federal agencies like the National Archives and Records Administration took advantage of $8 million from the CARES Act to strengthen telework protocols and purchase equipment.

Deputy CIO Sheena Burrell said that many employees were still needed onsite to physically pull records off shelves and scan and digitize them for public viewing, but a large number were already able to work remotely when the federal government's mandatory telework posture went into effect.

In a report released June 1, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General found that the pivot to mandatory telework was largely successful. An audit of 37 respondents found that most functions at HUD were not severely impacted by the need to work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many of the survey respondents indicated that switching to mandatory telework had no negative impact or only a slight impact on their work," the OIG wrote in its report.

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