Labor-management council considers tackling telework

The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations is considering wading into the issue of telework.

During a monthly meeting on Monday, council co-chairman John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, gave members 10 days to volunteer for a working group on the alternative work arrangement. If the topic generates enough interest, then the working group would explore possible ways to increase the number of federal employees authorized to work remotely, especially in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Speaking to the council at OPM headquarters, Berry said he believes telework allows the government to be more agile and able to maintain continuity of services during emergencies. He encouraged members to tackle the issue, reminding them there is high-level interest in telework, including support from President Obama.

But a number of council members appeared lukewarm about the working group. Even co-chairman Jeffrey Zients, federal chief performance officer and deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget -- voiced concerns about addressing telework. Given that many of the labor-management partnerships at the agency level are relatively new, Zients said he wondered if it was too early for the council to push a "signature issue."

Other concerns included the inability to make sweeping recommendations on an issue that is tailored to every agency.

Also during Monday's meeting, Berry announced that as of last week, unions and management agreed to begin bargaining through pilot programs at six federal agencies: the Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments; the National Credit Union Administration; and OPM.

The pilots, authorized by the December 2009 executive order that created the national council and established labor-management partnerships at the agency level, permit bargaining over specified subjects that are not usually negotiable in the federal sector such as technology, methods and means of performing work.

Unions and management at the Labor and Treasury departments have yet to reach agreements.

The national council also is moving closer to adopting a set of standard metrics to measure the success of agency labor-management partnerships. During the meeting on Monday, council members Carol A. Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, and Michael Filler, director of public services at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, presented refined metrics under three broad categories the council had agreed to: mission and service delivery, employee satisfaction and engagement, and labor-management relationships.

Berry was happy with the proposed standards. "It looks like real, solid progress," he said on Monday.

This new set of metrics will be discussed further, and possibly approved, during the council's next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 6.

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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