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Agency Reports

Federal Agency Efforts to Promote and Use Telework Centers

Introduction

Section 630(a) of Public Law 105-277 (Flexiplace Work Telecommuting Programs) authorized certain Executive agencies to spend a minimum of $50,000 for fiscal year 1999, and each fiscal year thereafter, to establish and carry out a flexiplace work telecommuting program. Section 630 defines a flexiplace work telecommuting program specifically as use of the General Service Administration managed telework centers. In accordance with Section 630, the term "Executive agency" refers to the following twenty departments and agencies: Department of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Labor, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration, Office of Personnel Management, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Postal Service.

Section 638 of Public Law 107-67, the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2002, directed federal agencies covered by section 630(a) of Public Law 105-277 to report to the Office of Personnel Management on their efforts to promote and use telecommuting centers as part of their flexiplace program. These reports were due no later than 60 days after the close of FY 2001. In turn, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was directed to provide a summary report to the House Committee on Appropriations no later than 90 days after the close of FY 2001.

To prepare this report, OPM analyzed data gathered by the General Services Administration (GSA) on the telework center fees and usage rates of GSA-managed telework centers.1 GSA received appropriations in FY 1999 and FY 2000 to subsidize the operational cost of the telework centers allowing Federal agencies to utilize them at 50 percent of the usage fee. In accordance with Section 411 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, as contained in Section 101 (h) of Division A of Public Law 105-277, GSA was not provided the allocated funds for the intended purpose of telework center subsidy for FY 2001. We also surveyed the 20 agencies covered by the telework programs law and sought information about the cost of promoting telework center use, the reasons agencies use or do not use telework centers, and their experience with telework centers. A copy of the survey is included in this report as Appendix B.

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FY 1999 Telework Center Costs for Federal Agencies Covered by Section 630(a) of Public Law 105-277

Fiscal year 1999 was the first year in which agencies were authorized to budget a minimum of $50,000 toward a telecommuting program and GSA telework centers.2 As the chart below indicates, 15 of the 20 agencies covered by section 630(a) of P.L.105-277 provided funding for telework center usage fees and/or promotion of telework centers with two of the 20 exceeding $50,000. The Department of Justice was the only agency to spend funds on both telework center use and promotion. The State Department spent funds to promote telework center use but had no employees assigned to work from a telework center. Six of the 20 agencies had no one assigned to telework centers and spent no money on telework center usage.

AgencyTotal UsersTotal # Centers UsedTotal Usage Fee CostsTotal Promotional CostsOverall Total
Agriculture 29 10 $29,790 $0 $29,790
Commerce 0 0 $0 $0 $0
DOD 128 14 $104,712 $0 $104,712
Education 6 4 $666 $0 $666
Energy 5 3 $2,936 $0 $2,936
EPA 3 3 $3,140 $0 $3,140
GSA 68 13 $60,745 $0 $60,745
HHS 10 6 $14,121 $0 $14,121
HUD 1 1 $1,848 $0 $1,848
Interior 2 2 $912 $0 $912
Justice 8 3 $9,235 $5,000 $14,235
Labor 0 0 $0 $0 $0
OPM 6 5 $5,403 $0 $5,403
SBA 0 0 $0 $0 $0
Social Security 0 0 $0 $0 $0
State 0 0 $0 $120 $120
Transportation 47 11 $41,226 $0 $41,226
Treasury 23 12 $40,384 $0 $40,384
US Postal Service 0 0 $0 $0 $0
Veterans Affairs 1 1 $1,925 $0 $1,925
TOTALS 337   $317,043 $5,120 $322,163

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FY 2000 Telework Center Costs for Federal Agencies covered by Section 630(a) of Public Law 105-277

During fiscal year 2000, 16 of the 20 agencies covered by section 630(a) of P. L. 105-277 provided funding for telework center usage fees and/or promotion of telework centers with three of the 20 exceeding $50,000. Only the Department of Justice and the State Department spent funds to promote telework center use, but State again had no employees assigned to a telework center. Five of the 20 agencies had no one assigned to telework centers and spent no money on telework center usage fees.3

AgencyTotal UsersTotal # Centers UsedTotal Usage Fee CostsTotal Promotional CostsOverall Total
Agriculture 28 12 $32,605 $0 $32,605
Commerce 1 1 $648 $0 $648
DOD 117 14 $112,337 $0 $112,337
Education 22 12 $64,182 $0 $64,182
Energy 5 3 $2,705 $0 $2,705
EPA 3 3 $3,990 $0 $3,990
GSA 62 12 $80,468 $0 $80,468
HHS 13 6 $13,809 $0 $13,809
HUD 1 1 $2,772 $0 $2,772
Interior 4 3 $4,820 $0 $4,820
Justice 8 1 $9,720 $8,000 $17,720
Labor 1 1 $1,023 $0 $1,023
OPM 14 8 $17,025 $0 $17,025
SBA 0 0 $0 $0 $0
Social Security 0 0 $0 $0 $0
State 0 0 $0 $500 $500
Transportation 40 13 $42,197 $0 $42,197
Treasury 13 10 $48,560 $0 $48,560
US Postal Service 0 0 $0 $0 $0
Veterans Affairs 0 0 $0 $0 $0
TOTALS 332   $436,861 $8,500 $445,361

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FY 2001 Telework Center Costs for Federal Agencies covered by Section 630(a) of Public Law 105-277

During fiscal year 2001, 14 of the 20 agencies covered by section 630(a) of P.L. 105-277 provided funding for telework center usage fees and/or promotion of telework centers with seven of the 20 exceeding $50,000. Only the Department of Justice spent funds to promote telework centers as a flexiplace option. Six of the 20 agencies had no one assigned to telework centers and spent no money on telework center use.4

AgencyTotal UsersTotal # Centers UsedTotal Usage Fee CostsTotal Promotional CostsOverall Total
Agriculture 45 13 $80,312 $0 $80,312
Commerce 2 2 $11,112 $0 $11,112
DOD 153 15 $223,369 $0 $223,369
Education 36 14 $71,640 $0 $71,640
Energy 8 5 $10,526 $0 $10,526
EPA 2 2 $6,262 $0 $6,262
GSA 57 12 $145,569 $0 $145,569
HHS 9 5 $27,244 $0 $27,244
HUD 1 1 $5,544 $0 $5,544
Interior 3 2 $9,184 $0 $9,184
Justice 13 2 $8,890 $8,000 $16,890
Labor 0 0 $0 $0 $0
OPM 17 7 $55,078 $0 $55,078
SBA 0 0 $0 $0 $0
Social Security 0 0 $0 $0 $0
State 0 0 $0 $ $0
Transportation 47 12 $73,487 $0 $73,487
Treasury 12 8 $62,501 $0 $62,501
US Postal Service 0 0 $0 $0 $0
Veterans Affairs 0 0 $0 $0 $0
TOTALS 405   $790,718 $8,000 $798,718

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Agency Experience with GSA Telework Centers

In our survey to the Executive Agencies as noted in Section 630 of the Law, we asked agencies that use GSA telework centers to rate their experience. We also asked agencies that do not use telework centers to tell us why. The surveys were distributed to the 20 agencies identified in Section 630 of the Law. Nineteen of those 20 agencies responded to the survey. Here is what we learned.

Comments From Telework Center Users

In our survey, we asked the 20 covered federal agencies to rate their telework center experience as very positive, satisfactory or very negative. Eight of the agencies that use telework centers gave very positive marks to their experience and two rated their experience as satisfactory. Nine agencies responded but did not answer the question to provide a rating of their experience, and one agency provided no survey.

The eight agencies that rated their telework center experience as very positive noted that telework centers are responsive to agency and employee needs and do a good job helping employees establish remote workstations. They also said that telework centers are very well maintained and comfortable for performing work.

The Department of Justice reported that all of the telework centers at which its employees are working are highly rated due to their convenient locations, quality furniture, equipment and supplies, and the professionalism of telework center management. The Department of Transportation also commented on the high satisfaction of its employees and specifically mentioned the Fredericksburg telework center for its effective scheduling program and excellent service to employees of the Federal Highway Administration.

Comments From Non-Users

We asked agencies for reasons as to why they do not utilize telework centers and to indicate whether it was due to cost, inconvenience, quality of equipment, employee interest, or some other reason (or any combination of these factors). Fifty-five percent of survey respondents cited cost as the main reason for not using telework centers to a greater extent.5

Three agencies specifically identified employee inconvenience as a reason for not using telework centers while six agencies cited lack of employee interest. In almost all of these cases, teleworking employees preferred to work from home instead of a remote location. The State Department prefers its employees to work from a home office due to security concerns and has provided them with laptops specially configured by the Department's technology staff. In FY 2000, 120 State Department employees worked from home, and in FY 2001, the number increased to 189.

Only the Department of Labor (DOL) identified quality of equipment as a reason for not using telework centers.

Forty-five percent of survey respondents marked "other" as their reason for not using telework centers to a greater extent. The Small Business Administration (SBA) stated that the current locations of the GSA telework centers are not accessible to the vast majority of the Agency's field operations, which encompass more than 80 percent of SBA's workforce. In the future, SBA's cost for telework center usage will be proportionate to the number of employees using the telework centers. The Social Security Administration said that its location in a Baltimore, Maryland suburb, where public transportation is readily available and traffic congestion is not an issue, limits the appeal of telework centers. However, many of their employees are eligible to telework and do so from their homes. Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that other forms of telecommuting are more conducive to VA's mission.

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Conclusion

Telework centers continue to offer real benefits to federal agencies and their employees. Agencies generally reported positive experiences with telework centers, finding them responsive to their needs and helpful to their employees. Agencies that do not use telework centers said that was mostly due to a combination of cost and a preference among teleworking employees for working at home.

While the usage rate for telework centers remains relatively low, the total number of employees using telework centers has increased considerably among the 20 covered agencies, from 337 users in FY 1999 to 405 in FY 2001. Overall, 14 of the 20 agencies are now using telework centers for employees to perform all or some of their work duties. Agencies with significant increases in telework center use include the Department of Education, which went from six users in FY1999 to 36 in FY2001; the Office of Personnel Management, which went from six users in FY1999 to 17 in FY2001; and the Department of Agriculture which went from 29 users in FY1999 to 45 in FY2001.

The funds appropriated to GSA to offset the operational cost of the telework centers ended after FY 2000 and agencies are now required to pay 100 percent of the telework center usage fees. The lack of appropriated funds for subsidy in FY 2001 did not affect the utilization of telework centers by the 20 covered agencies. In comparing the amount spent on telework centers in 1999 to the amount spent in 2001, we found that 14 of the 20 agencies spent the same or even more on telework center use. GSA maintained the existing fees for FY 2001 by subsidizing the telework centers out of the Federal Buildings Fund in lieu of direct appropriations from Congress. The total cost to GSA to operate these Centers was more than $2 million in FY 2001. During that time, GSA collected approximately $800,000 in user fees.

While only two agencies spent funds to promote telework centers in FY 1999 and 2000 and only one in FY 2001, GSA encourages telework center use through a variety of marketing efforts including radio announcements, brochures, commuter ads, and carpooling packets. Additionally, the telework center directors provide training highlighting the advantages of telework centers.

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Appendix A - Location and per user fees of GSA Managed Telework Center

Maryland

Bowie / Bowie White Oak
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $250.00
1 day per week: $50.00 monthly fee
Bowie Fees beginning June 1, 2002:
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $500.00
1 day per week: $100.00 monthly fee

Frederick
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $500.00
1 day per week: $100.00 monthly fee

Hagerstown
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $500.00
1 day per week: $100.00 monthly fee

Calvert Center
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $540.00
1 day per week: $108.00 monthly fee

Waldorf
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $540.00
1 day per week: $108.00 monthly fee

Laurel Lakes
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $540.00
1 day per week: $108.00 monthly fee

Virginia

FairfaxCity
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $520.00
1 day per week: $104.00 monthly fee

Herndon
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $520.00
1 day per week: $104.00 monthly fee

Manassas
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $400.00
1 day per week: $80.00 monthly fee

Spotsylvania (Massaponax)
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $520.00
1 day per week: $104.00 monthly fee

Sterling (Loudoun)
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $520.00
1 day per week: $104.00 monthly fee

Stafford
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $520.00
1 day per week: $104.00 monthly fee

Winchester
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $520.00
1 day per week: $104.00 monthly fee

Woodbridge
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $980.00
1 day per week: $196.00 monthly fee

West Virginia

Jefferson County
Monthly Fee for full-time use: $770.00
1 day per week: $154.00 monthly fee

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Appendix B - OPM Survey

Report on Agency Telework Center Promotion and Utilization due to OPM no later than December 10, 2001

Agency:_______________________________________________________

Official Preparing Report:__________________________________________

Title:__________________________________________________________

Address:_______________________________________________________

Phone:_________________ Fax:__________________ email:____________

The General Services Administration (GSA) has already provided 1999, 2000, and 2001 utilization rates and agency costs for all agencies using GSA telework centers. Utilization and cost information requested below pertains to Non-GSA telework centers. Non-GSA telework centers include those in Chicago, Beltsville (USDA), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Oneonta (N.Y.), and National Guard Learning Centers. If other Non-GSA telework centers were utilized, please list them as well.

N.A. - AGENCY DOES NOT USE telework centers (go to page 2) _______(check here)

1999 Non GSA telework center Use

Telework Center Name & Location

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Full-Time Use (5 days per week)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Part-time (1-4 days per week)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Occasional Use (Ad hoc or episodic)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

2000 Non GSA telework center Use

Telework Center Name & Location

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Full-Time Use (5 days per week)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Part-time (1-4 days per week)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Occasional Use (Ad hoc or episodic)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

2001 Non GSA telework center Use

Telework Center Name & Location

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Full-Time Use (5 days per week)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Part-time (1-4 days per week)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

# of Employees Occasional Use (Ad hoc or episodic)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________

OPM Survey

Was your agency aware of the provisions of Section 630 (a) of the 1999 Omnibus Appropriation Act indicating that "$50,000 shall be available only for the necessary expenses of the Executive agency to carry out a flexiplace work telecommuting program?"

Yes: _____    No: _____

How much of the $50,000 did your agency spend to promote the use of all telework centers in

FY 1999?    $____________________

FY 2000?    $____________________

FY 2001?    $____________________

Please rate your experience with any telework center:

Very Positive: _____    Satisfactory: _____    Very Negative: _____

Name of telework center: __________________________________________

Comments/Reasons:_________________________________________ 
________________________________________________________ 
________________________________________________________

Of those agencies that did not use telework centers, please describe why: (Check all applicable)

__________ Cost

__________ Convenience

__________Quality of Equipment

__________ Employee Interest

__________ Other

Comments/Reasons:_________________________________________ 
________________________________________________________ 
________________________________________________________

What is the estimated cost for promoting employee use of telework centers by your agency during FY 2002?

$____________________

What is the estimated cost for telework center usage fees by your agency during FY 2002?

$____________________

PLEASE SUBMIT SURVEY TO OPM
NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 10, 2001 

Fax to Jennifer Hirschmann at 202-606-0967
Contact Ms. Hirschmann directly at 202-606-3711 with any questions
VISIT WWW.TELEWORK.GOV FOR ALL TELEWORK INFORMATION

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Notes

  1. The only agency to use a telework center not managed by GSA was the Department of Transportation (DOT), which used the Maryland National Guard facility in Laurel, Maryland for one employee on a part time basis over the past three years. DOT also used the Internal Coast Guard Facility in Virginia for one employee in FY2001.
  2. In FY 1999, agencies were only required to pay 50 percent of the telework center fees out of their appropriations, with the remaining 50 percent subsidized by GSA.
  3. In FY 2000, agencies were only required to pay 50 percent of the telework center fees with the remaining 50 percent subsidized by GSA.
  4. FY 2001 was the first year federal agencies were required to pay 100 percent of the telework center fee.
  5. Fees for space and use at a telework center vary at each location. The lowest fee for 2001 was at the Bowie/White Oak telework center located in Bowie, Maryland. The Bowie telework center charges a $250 monthly fee for full time use. The highest fee for 2001 was at the Woodbridge telework center located in Virginia. The Woodbridge telework center charges a $980 monthly fee for full time use. The remaining 13 telework centers in the metro DC area charged from $400 to $770 monthly for full time use. Appendix A of this report provides a summary of the fees for area telework centers.

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