Workplace flexibility program moves full-speed ahead

The Office of Personnel Management's Workforce Flexibility Initiative pilot program will kick into full gear beginning in June, an OPM official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Under the Results-Only Work Environment program, nearly 400 OPM employees from a range of job functions will be permitted to work wherever and whenever they choose as long as their work gets done. Supervisors will be expected to "manage for results" and trust employees to complete their tasks.

"This is a shift in culture from permission granting -- granting leave, permission to telework, etc. -- to performance guiding," said Jonathan Foley, senior adviser to the director, during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing.

Officials announced the program on March 31 and it has been in the assessment and education phases since. The two contractors OPM hired to implement and evaluate the initiative have been visiting participating offices in Boyers, Pa., and Washington conducting surveys, focus groups and job shadowing.

This month, OPM and the contractors will work on the logistics and begin to lead the cultural shift toward ROWE principles.

Joseph Flynn, national vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told the subcommittee the union is excited by the pilot program and the Local 32 chapter has been working closely with OPM to implement it. Flynn said one of the groups selected to participate has had major workload processing problems for some time, and under the program, management and labor forums have been established to address these problems.

"Local 32 can already see that preparing this group to participate in the ROWE pilot has driven the resolution of some of the issues raised by the union this past year," Flynn said. "We believe that if the ROWE pilot works with this particular work group, it can work within any other offices."

Max Stier, president of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, urged OPM to combine the pilot program with "solid data-gathering protocols" to ensure that the agency understands what works and can replicate it.

Several senators and witnesses extolled the virtues of telework and other flexible work arrangements during the hearing. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, said these benefits are crucial to attract the next generation of federal employees.

"Younger workers may have different work expectations than previous generations and may value workplace flexibility more than traditional fringe benefits," Akaka said. "Work-life programs help agencies compete in the marketplace."

Foley said OPM's data analysis team estimated that 30 percent of federal employees who teleworked during the February snow storms in Washington offset about $30 million daily in lost productivity.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said successes at several agencies already have proved the benefits of telework, and those that are doing it well should play the role of ambassadors and speak to others about how they did and how it has benefited both employees and employer.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said that among the most important elements of these programs is ensuring they can provide savings for the taxpayer and communicating those savings.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.