Federal telework: Blame it on FEMA

ederal agencies aren't taking advantage of telework options largely because FEMA has failed to specify telework procedures for emergencies, the Government Accountability Office said today.

Federal agencies aren't taking advantage of telework options largely because FEMA has failed to specify telework procedures for emergencies, the Government Accountability Office said today, Federal Computer Week reports.

“FEMA has not provided specific guidance on preparations needed to use telework during emergencies,” said GAO Comptroller General David Walker, in testimony today before the House Government Reform Committee.

Of 23 agencies, GAO surveyed, only nine had plans to shift important employees to telework, and only one had documented communications with their emergency response employees about telework, GAO said.

GAO recommended that FEMA become more proactive in COOP (continuity of operations) by creating guidance on preparations needed for telework during a major disruption of government work. Agency preparations would be developed in conjunction with the Office of Personnel Management.

After GAO issued a similar report a year ago faulting FEMA for lack of COOP guidelines, FEMA released better guidelines for alternative facilities for emergency workers, but it has not done the same for telework.

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