Telework Exchange Town Hall

Uploaded by USOPM on 05.10.2009

This is the man who pledged
to put the giddy up in federal telework and he's
going to make things really happen.
Sworn in as Director of the Office of Personnel
Management on April 13th John Berry serves as the
chief architect of the Human Resource Agenda for the 1.9
million federal employees nationwide.
He is responsible for crafting federal recruitment
strategies, expediting the hiring process for federal
positions and attracting a diverse group of employees
to serve America.
In fact I heard just yesterday that OPM,
under John Berry's leadership has turbocharged
the federal security clearance background check process.
Today OPM can clear a federal recruit in just 37 days.
To get a sense of the magnitude of this
achievement, it took over a year to get a clearance in
2001 John and I were chatting a little earlier
and I think the point is well made that we can't
really get much below 37 days,
it's not like you're issuing a dog license.
So fantastic achievement.
We will also have Aneesh Chopra,
the Federal CTO to join us following Mr. Berry's remarks.
With that said I would like to welcome Director John
Berry to the stage.
Steve thank you, and thanks to each of you
for coming today to talk about and learn the latest
in what's going on.
I think this is a very exciting time.
We're trying to lead the way on the policy front,
but I think even more exciting is how fast the
technology is catching up and solving so many of the
problems that have sort of been the barriers or the
speed bumps that have stood in the way of telework and
one by one they're falling.
I was talking with someone today from the customs
service on the way in and how they have these portable
devices that allow you to use your home computer but
still provide the same level of security as if they were
at their work station.
So each day there is a new revolution going on here
that is making this more and more possible and more and
more dynamic and so I think it's great that each and
every one of you are here to stay if you will on the
leading edge of what is going on in this field and
with this topic.
Steve I want to thank you and the telework exchange
for your constant leadership,
your evangelism on this issue across the country.
It is amazing and we really appreciate it and your
passion for this topic has helped bring this center stage.
In my opinion telework is an important productivity tool
and an important work life flexibility.
We all know that there's a connection between
flexibility and productivity.
Now the people at Gallop have developed a tool called
the well being index and it measures your physical and
emotional health especially as it relates to your
workforce productivity.
Not surprisingly when we talk to employees,
time spent relaxing or pursuing hobbies and
interests is found to improve your well being.
But the interesting end is the other end of that
spectrum, researchers have found that the activity that
employees dislike the most in their entire day,
it even ranks below cleaning the toilet;
time spent with your boss.
Well, I've got good news for everybody.
We want to help you spend less time in the office with
your boss.
All kidding aside, I really believe that telework is one
of our key workforce flexibilities,
boy that's a tongue twister, with many benefits.
We don't want to make people skeptical by touting
telework as a panacea that is going to solve all of
society's ills.
We do however, want to show stakeholders,
and all of you in the room already know this,
that simply put well executed telework plans
yield concrete benefits, and can and should be used as
part of a suite of employment flexibilities
that work well with results oriented management government.
That's why I have been on Capital Hill to support
congressional efforts to jump start the energy on
this issue.
In May we announced a five step program that is
essentially mirrored off the legislative initiative that
has been led, as Steve mentioned by John Sarbanes,
Frank Wolf, Steny Hoyer in the House and on the Senate
we've got great support from Chairman Akaka
and Senator Voinovich.
They are all incredible advocates for federal
employees and we are very lucky that they are
believers in this issue.
As OPM works to foster a culture shift throughout the
government towards telework, we're focused on two main
benefits, productivity and continuity of operations.
First let me discuss productivity.
We want to be sure that everyone,
employees, managers, and senior managers know and
understand this is not vacation time.
We are not discussing the four day work week here and
it is an essential thing that I think we sort of need
to shift that dynamic in people's minds because
managers still think of it it that way and we've got to
help them get over that.
A telework day is a work day and we expect and will
demand productivity.
I think that's the most important point we can make
when we go back to our home agencies to build momentum.
Now Aneesh will speak today about some of the ways,
and exciting ways that technology can free us from
our office, engage employees and help foster more collaboration.
Collaboration is a key element of productivity.
The more close knit out teams are,
the more productive they'll be.
If I have a quick thought for one of my staffers,
but they're across a building or two floors up
form my office, two decades ago that thought probably
just passed into oblivion.
Well today email allows me to get that right in the
hands of who needs it.
It has brought us closer together.
I am more connected to a teleworking employee who's
available on email than I am to someone who's often in
the same building who has stepped away from their
computer, and there are many more ways that technology
enables that kind of collaboration.
By pushing people further into the digital environment
telework can help increase the use of more of these
tools as Steve has mentioned.
Avoiding the daily commute raises productivity by
reducing stress levels and saving time.
Not only during the commute, but during the day as well.
On some of our federal complexes we may have to
walk as much as 15 minutes to get to a meeting and back.
But when telework forces us to actually work through the
culture shift to conference, we get that time back.
The bottom line is, is that while each person works at
his or her own way, and each job is different,
in many situations telework is an option that will help
the worker do the job better.
Next I want to share with you how we're talking about
telework in relation to continuity
of operations planning.
A coup situation can unfold in a million different ways
in terms of duration and effected locations.
So we need to be as flexible as possible.
We can have a power outage in one federal building,
I had one at OPM yesterday, we had a power surge,
it crashed our system, crashed our air conditioning
handling system for a couple of hours.
A snow day, I'm looking forward to that responsibility.
I told the President,
you know I'm a believer, life is short,
make more snow days.
We can unfortunately have a repeat of something like the
Anthrax attack which many in this room will remember or
as you have already heard references H1N1 that might
keep us out longer.
We can also have planned coup situations.
Right now today the G20 is meeting in Pittsburgh and
federal offices are located right down,
one block away from the summit site.
Guess what, they're closed and operating on a coup plan
that involves three days with paid leave
for those employees.
Telework is perfect for a situation like the G20,
because it changes the conversation entirely.
Instead of asking what's the minimum we can do during
this downtime, we can aim a lot higher and ask what's
the maximum we can do during this?
Can we capture 70% of a normal day?
Can we do 80% of a day, how about 90%
of a normal workday?
That is a major shift, and that is a productivity return.
OPM Center for Retirement and Insurance Services has a
small office in Pittsburgh.
Guess what?
Over 75% of the staff there telework on a regular basis.
So instead of paid leave right now,
they're home working.
That's good business practice and it's good value
for the taxpayer.
Another example of support of telework coming from the top.
Just a few days ago the Department of Homeland
Security instructed 40,000 of its employees who are
listed at teleworkers to test their capabilities by
working from home for at least one day this week.
That brings up an interesting point.
Having a signed telework agreement is no good if it's
not used.
Using it once a month is good for making sure that
the equipment works and that we have a coup fallback
option, but it's not going to enhance productivity or
keep us operating near normal levels during the
coup situation.
For that we need full fledged teleworkers.
A full fledged teleworker is someone for whom telework is
second nature and to achieve that we have to be doing it
on average, in my opinion, about once a week.
It has to become part of the ethos that we use
in the office.
We can't have offices with no meetings on Fridays
because of telework.
Get people on the phone, use the technologies.
No conference should be canceled because someone is
working from home.
We have the ability to bring them in and network them in.
We're doing this at OPM now.
It works great.
Video conferencing is available to us on each and
every computer now.
In order to show the success of telework and expand its
use I think we need to come up with a few better definitions.
There's a big difference between a full fledged
teleworker and someone who's only telework ready and
that's a concept our definitions have got to sort
of begin to reflect.
Now I'm not proposing policy up here today but I would
really welcome your ideas on this,
you wrestle with this everyday,
and what you think about this.
Because as Steve mentioned we need metrics to show the
impact that we're having.
We need to decide what we're
counting and then go out to count it because we've got
to, at the end of the day be able to convince the
taxpayer what we're doing is a productivity improvement.
One thought.
Maybe your telework ready if you work outside of the
traditional office setting once a month and you're a
full fledged teleworker if you telework an average of
once a week or more.
I just want to put that out there and have you all give
us some feedback as we go forward.
And then at the far end of the telework spectrum,
and this is something Aneesh is very familiar with and
can talk in great detail about,
we have telejobs.
Those are jobs that are done entirely away from the
traditional office setting.
For instance many of OPM's investigative services,
Steve talked to you about that.
When we inherited this challenge five years ago
there was a backlog of a half a million cases.
Today, no backlog.
When we started this five years ago the average time
to do the investigation portion of the security
clearance was over a year in time.
Today it is less than 40 days,
37 days, ahead of schedule, we weren't supposed to hit
that target until December/January,
we hit it in September.
It's an amazing product and let me tell you that's a
productivity standard I was very proud to defend on
Capital Hill.
Well guess what?
Almost all of those investigative workers,
5,000 people, work from their homes.
They are the pure definition of teleworking to the next
level if you will.
They are essentially telejobs and guess what?
I don't get to count any of them in terms of the current
definitions under government today.
Here I have 5,000 workers engaged in full time
telework and it doesn't score towards any benefit.
So these are things we're going to have to wrestle
Seems to me if you have a telejob you should be
considered a teleworker, so we need to wrestle with
these definitions, but we also need you to critically
and continually assess your programs in your departments
and agencies, both your structure
and the implementation.
Who in your office is actually a full fledged teleworker?
Who's only telework ready?
How productive are teams with teleworkers and how do
we measure that?
Can any of my agency's current telework jobs become
full time telejobs?
What are other agencies doing that my agency might
be able to emulate?
That's what today is about.
You know who the leaders in this field are.
You all have been doing this a lot longer than I've been
talking about it and what they've accomplished is
amazing, but let me give you some of the brief highlights
that I've learned over the last six months.
The patent and trademark office has measurably
increased employee productivity,
satisfaction and retention and reduced their real
estate costs.
GSA is sitting right here, I know they like
the sound of that.
All that adds up to improve quality and again savings
for the taxpayers.
At NIH, an organization that is particularly and acutely
aware of the threat from pathogens like H1N1 had a
pilot back in '01 where they demonstrated concrete results.
Managers since have begun to reduce their resistance to
this idea and their participation rates now are
over 20%.
At the National Transportation Safety Board
they conducted a pilot in '07 and then implemented a
comprehensive program.
They found out that teleworkers are taking less
leave, fewer sick days and retention rates have improved.
At the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation they
made even more headway.
Ninety percent of their managers who responded to
the telework survey last fall indicated a favorable
review of telework.
Now those are just a few examples and we're looking
for more.
Each office has different requirements and we know
there's no one size fits all solution.
So I hope you will share your best practices with my staff.
I'm committed to doing this and OPM is committed to
working with the White House,
to lead by example in developing and implementing
a new level of telework government wide.
A program that's focused on productivity and readiness,
on getting buy in from all levels of agencies,
on training and on rigorous measurement of results.
In addition to working with Aneesh and his team,
we've also met with staff in the West Wing.
You will be very pleased to hear that the White House
Council on Women and Girls in the First Lady's Office
are passionate defenders of this idea.
Work life balance is one of the priority issues that the
first lady sees as one of her signature issues and so
that shows there is strong support in the West Wing
as well.
Women especially are pulled in many directions today.
Caring for children, and increasingly their parents
as well, helping their kids' school with extracurricular
activities and being active in communities.
But not exclusively because men share these roles
increasingly in our workplace.
Feds are big hearted people and we all take on many
responsibilities outside of the workplace.
The President and the First Lady have engaged this
summer in volunteer service and are strongly encouraging
all Americans to do the same.
With telework and other flexibilities I believe our
employees will be more empowered to engage in that
level of service.
We can implement a new vision.
In the morning a background investigator in the field
can interview a candidate's references to make sure that
we're giving the right people access
to classified information.
In the afternoon they can send those results of the
interviews instantly to the agencies
that are requiring them.
Take a training class online,
video conference with colleagues to discuss
important issues, and then take their father to a
doctor's appointment.
A scientist living in the suburbs can take her kids a
few blocks to school and then log on to a secure
network and work on pathogen research.
When you think about it, the President is really the
teleworker in chief!
He's connected wherever he goes.
He's able to work, yesterday is a good example,
in New York City in the morning,
Pittsburgh in the afternoon, and Washington at night and
you know what?
He wasn't out of touch for one minute of that day.
So we know the federal government is capable of
doing this.
Now while the president has a little bit of a unique
position, and of course everyone can't have all of
his communications gear, the culture and the technology
are rapidly catching up to that.
He and his staff expect to be reachable anywhere and
work goes on no matter where they are.
That's what we want to achieve,
and I believe we can.
Much of what I described in investigative services
proves that this is already happening.
We're revamping the employee viewpoint survey,
formerly known as the federal human capital
survey, to more closely emulate and test these ideas.
And the OPM initiative, that five step program I talked
to you about is rolling forward.
The latest technology is penetrating agencies.
Finally, in this year's upgrade at OPM we've got
smaller PCs that are lighter and easier to carry rather
than these big old cumbersome things.
You don't even need the attachments anymore,
they have the built in cards now,
so wherever you are, you don't even need wi-fi
anymore, it's amazing, you can just have automatic call up.
You can be connected and provide that connectivity.
I know because I do it when I'm on the road.
We are overhauling our IT infrastructure.
Our phone system is out of the 1960s and it regularly
fails us.
So we're putting in a new one and we're upgrading that
infrastructure because it's going to be essential that
we can back up and support our teleworkers.
I've also been kind of out on the road meeting with
companies that are engaged in this in a real level.
I've met with Google, with Facebook,
with Ideo and others.
I will continue to do so because I think they are
ahead of us in this and I am not going to rest until the
federal government is back in it's rightfully
leadership role in terms of employment practices.
Together we can make this happen.
So I hope you will work with us,
my team that's leading this up is small but mighty.
Dan Green, I think many of you know at OPM.
Kim Wells, and Maria LaTeau, they're here today,
they're my lead staffers for telework and they're doing a
great job with pretty limited resources.
So I hope you'll help them by reaching out to them with
ideas, innovations, and resources of how
we can do better.
You can call them at OPM or reach them through telework
on our .gov web site which has a lot of great
information that we've been talking about.
This is the time to take telework to the next level.
The technology is maturing and our people are becoming
more and more comfortable with it.
The need for this option is getting even clearer with
the H1N1 and other continuity scenarios.
And it's essential if we're going to make government
cool again.
As President Obama has instructed us to do,
and to continue to attract and retain the best and the
brightest in government service.
Thank each and every one of you again for all you've
done and all you will continue to do on this
important issue and I look forward to working with you.
Thank you.
Good morning everybody.
Good morning.
It's been a year since we were standing, I think I
was on that side of the room.
John you took my spot man, that was there.
It is a real pleasure to be wit you again because
telework has been such an important part of my policy
priorities both in my experience in Virginia and
now in my opportunity to serve our President.
Director Berry has been a phenomenal partner and you
heard his remarks this morning but he has this
incredible spirit of openness and innovation.
Most people get a little nervous when we try to bring
up new ideas; he loves them and he welcomes them and I
think when you heard him say at the end of his remarks
that he's open to hearing what can be done to improve
performance, he means it.
He's a terrific leader and it's an honor and a
privilege to work with him.
Let me obviously thank the telework exchange for
hosting this forum.
It's a great opportunity to bring people together to
roll up our sleeves and no one in this room needs to be
convinced of the merits and the value of telework.
It's really about how do we get the job done.
My position last year was sort of nurturing and
encouraging my federal friends to kind of keep
moving the ball forward.
Now I feel a little bit of accountability to make sure
that we're delivering on what's possible.
What I want to do with my remarks this morning though
is to lift up for a moment, to get us a little bit above
and beyond the mechanics of telework and put it in the
broader context about where the administration is going
on the theme of innovation.
This has been an important week for us.
I had the pleasure of traveling with the President
on Monday to Troy, New York where we unveiled the
Administration's Innovation Agenda.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to
peruse the document, it's available on,
but it is an important policy document for you to
share with your managers and your leadership teams,
especially within the federal agencies as it
provides for you some broader principles that
could help to spur the role that telework could play in
advancing the President's larger innovation agenda.
What I thought I might do is summarize a bit about that
agenda this morning, describe for you how it
aligns to the work you all might be doing in promoting
telework within the organizations and then to
lift up more broadly with a challenge and an opportunity
for us to continue.
The strategy in large part rests on three pillars.
The first pillar is to ensure that we as a nation
continue to invest in the building blocks of innovation.
As the President described in his remarks on Monday,
out of the nearly 787 billion dollars in the
stimulus package, 100 billion of it essentially
has been directed towards the long term economic
success of our nation, these building blocks of innovation.
As he outlined the core components of these building
blocks we recognized that telework has an important
role to play in these components.
The first and most obvious is the notion that we must
have a successful and dynamic broadband strategy.
Many of you are aware that the Federal Communication
Commission has embarked upon a journey through the
National Broadband Plan.
Congress has asked for that report by February of 2010.
Chairman Jetakowski has been off to a rip roaring start
in gathering thousands of ideas from the American people.
I want to ensure that all of you in this room take full
advantage of the National Broadband Plan to talk about
telework and what it means to your agencies to ensure
that those employees have the opportunity to actually
conduct their business remotely from wherever they
might live.
Not just here in the greater Washington area,
but all across the country where we have federal employees.
It is important for you to have your voice heard in the
National Broadband Plan so that can be an important component.
I can assure you we are actively engaged in
spiriting up discussion around the notion of
telework, what we're now calling telejobs in many circles.
We've got to come up with some branding,
we've got to get it right, telework,
telejobs, we'll figure out something.
The principle is the same.
How do we ensure that we have the infrastructure
which is aligned to the President's building blocks
of innovation.
A second and related area of great interest in the
linkage between cyber security and our openness of
the internet.
Many of your employees, I am sure are expressing concerns
that we have true security concerns that might limit
their ability to participate in telework.
To some degree there may be some legitimacy to these concerns.
As we look to develop our broader cyber security
strategy, and in my capacity as chief technology officer,
engaging collaboratively with the private sector to
strengthen our infrastructure,
still built on the foundations of our open
internet but with the provision of services that
might allow for more security,
how might you, in a proactive sense,
surface innovative applications that could
reduce the security threats facing your agency?
I don't envision a one size fits all as we proceed on
cyber security because many of your employees will have
varying degrees of need for security applications.
But what I do not wish to accept is that the
conversation ends at, "well we have security concerns,
okay, let's not proceed further on the discussion of telework."
What we need to understand is what the unique
circumstances are of the given employee's
opportunities to telework that might be limited about
concerns about security threats which are legitimate
and let's go about our business to find solutions
to those problems.
We are hungry to bring the private sector's best
practices into our operations to ensure we have
at least as much as possible removed the barriers that
have been a difficult one.
There are a wide range of technologies both existing
and emerging that can be deployed that can help to
move the ball forward in many of these circumstances.
These two components largely speak to the building blocks
of innovation.
There are a couple of other components that are
important for you to notice.
The President made it very clear,
we have an opportunity to take advantage of the 150
billion dollars our federal government spends on
research and development to help spur the next wave of
entrepreneurship and innovation.
In many cases aligning our R&D opportunities with
telework poses yet another chance for innovation to the
extent that there are cyber security challenges where
current solutions are insufficient,
we might have an opportunity to collaborate with our
university partners.
All through our federal ecosystem,
NSF funded research centers, work we're doing at the
defense department, aligned with the strategies of our
various agencies, this is all about interagency
collaboration and cooperation.
We can get it done if there's a will and a way.
The third pillar of the building blocks of
innovation however, is the larger challenge for us and
why we see it so critical that we engage on telework
as a thoughtful lever in our overall HR strategy.
The President made it very clear on Monday that for
America to return to its leadership position around
the world, on global competitiveness,
we absolutely must return to the number one status as the
nation with the highest degree of our population
with college degrees.
We have been number one for decades,
we've fallen, barely in the top 10.
The President declared that by the year 2020 we shall
return to that high position.
When you look at the math and the dynamics associated
with that challenge you acknowledge that there are
pockets of talent in this country that have the raw
material to be competitive, can fill the jobs that we
need to employ here in the federal workforce,
but have to find a way to get back on track.
Many of them will use distance learning
capabilities to come in to the skills necessary for us
to employ them.
How tragic would it be if we trained them through
distance learning capabilities,
they were capable and eligible to fill the jobs we
so desperately need for them to fill,
and the passed the processing time,
right Director Berry?
With a challenge to say, "Well now that you've made
it through we can't quite use that same technology
platform we used to train to come in,
to run your operations and your service."
That's just not an acceptable answer.
But even more to the point, even more to the point,
when I was here a year ago I shared with you the story of
the tax department in Virginia who voluntarily
made the choice that we should hire 25 of our
workers, not in the immediate Richmond market
where we were headquartered, but out in Danville,
Virginia that was suffering a high degree of unemployment.
Having all of those workers joined by full time telework
with all the security and the technology that would
enable them to be effective, and I shared with you the
best practices that that showed,
doubling the productivity rates,
high levels of employee retention,
and obviously more to the point,
the ability to untap the hidden talent that we have
throughout our country.
When you look at the statistics for full time
teleworkers and overwhelming number of them happen to be
women, many of them who have a difficult time balancing
family commitments with their desire to remain
engaged in the professional workforce.
If we get this right on workforce,
we will open up the opportunities to tap into
all of that brain power, struggling with finding work
life balance, we can make it work.
It's happening in the private sector all over this country.
That's part and parcel of the President's innovation
strategy to build the building blocks of
The other two components of the President's strategy are
a little bit broader in their scope with respect to
telework, but they are still important nonetheless.
We must catolize innovation towards
our national priorities.
Today we are clearly focused in the public domain on our
health care challenges but we are equally focused on
our energy and climate challenges,
as we are the educational transformation challenge
that ensures that we have a pipeline that will meet the
needs of our global competitiveness strategy.
In that regard, it is absolutely clear without any
debate that telework is a strong tool on the energy
and climate challenge.
We've documented, in fact Steve you've got all these
widgets and tools and wizards and whatever you've
got on your website to calculate the amount of
gallons saved and all those other things,
are those things still alive?
The wizmos, gizmos, yes they are.
So the point is we know this,
as we look to do our part to reduce our energy
consumption in this country to help to build up our
strategy on climate change, what role will you play?
FIRK, the regulatory body that oversees a great deal
of our energy policy has said explicitly,
strategies on energy efficiency can reduce 20% of
our energy consumption related to peak load.
That's a big deal.
We must demonstrate that in our small pockets of the
world and I believe telework can be a wonderful way our
agencies can demonstrate that leadership.
I want to share with you a few core principals for how
I think about the telework market in a broader context
than just the immediacy of the employer/employee relationship.
As I get to this third component which is how do we
spur competitive markets and promote entrepreneurship?
A key pillar of the American Innovation strategies.
If you think about telework more broadly,
obviously to one extent we have the tax department of
Virginia's story, of full time employees who can be
remote workers who participate in ways that we
hadn't dreamed of because we had been geographically
biased in our hiring historically.
That is, for lack of a better term,
the democratization of telework at the individual level.
But there are two other levers that speak to
competitive markets through entrepreneurship.
First what I would refer to as the apps economy,
the apps economy.
It was noted in Chairman Jetakowski's speech earlier
this week when he declared the SEC's posture regarding
net neutrality and transparency in network
operations, that if you looked at the current
platforms on which people can build apps or
technologies or businesses, he cited the well known
example that eBay supports 600,000
entrepreneurs around the country.
But go a little bit further and look at the emerging
software platforms that are enabling small businesses
all over the country to build dollar,
two dollar, five dollar, twenty dollar applications
whether it be on your iPhone,
the Microsoft as your platform,
Android or any one of a number of other ecosystems.
How many of your contract opportunities,
rather than being met by hiring a traditional
contractor in the market who comes into your office at x
hundred dollars an hour, what if you issued a little
apps challenge to inspire rural Americans all over the
country, or urban communities,
through telework, in their little communities to build
those lightweight apps, and to generate some modest
revenues by achieving one of our business objectives?
The apps economy is a burgeoning opportunity.
Imagine that heat map of the entrepreneurs in the supply
chain who meet the needs of your agencies today.
Some of them are full time teleworkers living in parts
of the country that have a difficult economic status.
They can benefit in your supply chain as full time
teleworkers who have this ability to generate these
modest apps that could advance our collective objectives.
My goodness, I'm addicted to the Starbuck's vanilla
grande, don't tell my wife, are you broadcasting this?
I've got to go there to get my fix,
it's kind of trouble, so I downloaded this nutrition
app, paid a couple bucks for it,
now everyday I click that you know first I had the
grande, then I realized my sugar intake was going to
kill me, then I downgraded to the tall,
and now I've downgraded to the skinny so that I can
track what the caloric and the sugar intake is and the
effect on my body.
This little investment I made,
I don't know who the entrepreneur was who built
that little app, but my hope is that they may have built
it in their home and they have that capacity to be
full time teleworkers.
So there's this apps economy component that might spur
entrepreneurship in ways that would advance your
supply chain goals and your small business support goals
as well your telework objectives if you think more
broadly about the term.
And the last component on spurring competitive markets
through entrepreneurship is what we had done when I
shared the story in Virginia,
by engaging in enterprise collaboration through
capabilities in rural parts of the country,
the near shoring story, again more broadly defined
in the context of telework in the sense that it's
moving big blocks of our operational services into
pockets of the country that may not have a federal
office building presence, but could be providing a key
ingredient of our supply chain moving forward.
But if I could indulge with one final set of words,
it is this, and it is the challenge and I have not
lost my Virginia spirit because we still celebrate
that same spirit of commonwealth in the Obama administration.
The notion that while we have laws and policies and
rules and you've got to call on Director Berry's office
to share your ideas and to push the ball forward and
we're going to do all of those wonderful things,
in many cases the challenge is within us to work
together as friends and neighbors to find new ways
to tap into the collective expertise of our working
population to achieve all that we must accomplish to
bring real change to this country.
I end on the spirit of commonwealth and the notion
of what we're doing here in telework,
with this idea of what happened in the VA.
Anyone here in the VA in the house?
The VA people?
Brothers and sisters, the VA the President gave a speech
in August where he challenged the VA to tackle
the long standing problems of how to reduce the backlog
and the turn around times for benefits filers.
Some in the news media have called this hundreds of
thousands of applications in backlog taking months and
months and months, in some cases years for turn around time.
But what the President says, while we wait for the big
strategies and the transformation plans and the
big programs and the budgets and all the rest,
why don't we tap into the collective expertise of the
front line workers who occupy the seats at the VA.
Nineteen thousand employees at the VA,
the benefits administration.
We flipped the switch on a lightweight
collaborative platform.
We issued the challenge within ten days or so of the
President's ask, and over the course of two weeks,
12,000 of the VA's front line workers registered.
There was no management decree,
there was no forcible action,
this was the spirit of commonwealth where thousands
of ideas were posted, thousands of ideas were
voted upon, regional office against regional office to
share those ideas will lead now to applications for
innovation, support, to bring those ideas to life.
But it was an embodiment of the spirit that regional
offices that have wide geographic distances apart
can come together in the spirit of commonwealth on a
platform to share ideas, to negotiate,
engage, support the best strategies to move forward.
That's telework at its finest.
They were not hosting a conference call or a meeting
or what have you.
They came together.
It didn't matter their geography.
It mattered simply that they were asked and that they had
an idea and that they wanted their voice heard.
If we can do it to find ideas to solve our
longstanding operational challenges,
we can do it in our daily lives to do our work,
that's why we are so supportive of agencies to
engage on telework.
Thank you for indulging me this morning.
Let's move to the next step.
So we'll move to Q&A thank you
for these great comments.
I think the exciting pieces you talked about in terms of
the apps economy really is the ability to unleash
productivity and innovation and the nation is excited.
We do indeed still have the calculator and the gizmo up
on the web site.
I think early versions of those types of apps based on
the telework Virginia pilot we just did with Tim Caine,
we extrapolated from there and we found that if every
member of the white collar workforce of the United
States teleworked just one day for a year we could save
161.5 billion dollars in commuting costs.
In very real numbers,
and I think obviously when we talk about that,
it's all about metrics, because we're not going to
change anything without some measurable impact.
With that I'd like to turn it over to you and open up
for question and answers and if you could,
when you have a question if you could state your name
and the organization and the microphone will come to you.
First question is in the back there,
it's the furthest point.
Ladies first.
My name is Gail Decker from the Department of Health and
Human Services.
I'd like to know what is your position on the federal
government providing broadband access,
printers, and any other infrastructure needed to
make them work efficiently at home.
Should that be the employee's expense?
Should that be a requirement?
What is your position please?
That sounds like an HR question to me there John.
You know I believe in the workplace
we've got to give our workers the tools to be able
to work anywhere and that ought not to be their expense.
The portable computer that I have works as well at home
as it does in the office, as it does when I'm on the road
and that's issued to me by the United States Government
so it is paid for that way.
So I am very comfortable with providing and building
into the budgets of agencies.
I think within the existing budgets my understanding is
we have the ability to use our resources to empower our
employees with the right technologies and so you know
I think you know a lot of this technology,
for example, I don't need a government printer at home
because I've already got one.
So essentially I'm subsidizing the government a
little bit because when I'm at home I just use my
personal printer because I can hook my portable up into
it, but the portable the government is paying for.
So you know again I am happy to check with Dan Green of
our staff in terms of if we need to do anything to
clarify that we're happy to get the guidance out to do it.
If I might, a series of agencies have different
policies on this.
Some agencies will pay 25% of broadband costs,
some 50%, some 75% and some 100%.
One of the things we're actually working on right
now at the telework exchange is building another gizmo
which will allow you to go in and check what policy is
at your agency.
So there's various forces.
So you know for example, the investigative,
the security thing I was talking about,
we pay for all of that.
I've got 2500 workers, you know working full time from
their homes because I need security on them because
they're doing top secret and SCI security background
checks on people and they're accessing law enforcement
records, they're exchanging private information.
They have to have the high security,
they can't get that through their own home systems,
so we pay for that, we provide that.
So you know I think in our case,
you know I don't know what the record is across the
government but it's certainly something we can
look at and see what we can do to help.
I'll go one level further on instructions.
John said something very important.
Budget neutral.
One of the key pillars that we adopted in Virginia when
an agency wished to make such investments,
they put together a one to two page business plan.
So in the case of the tax department they said,
this is how many leave, this is the cost of employee
leave on account of their inability
to get work done remotely.
And if we could reduce that by x percent as the target,
we would like to use the resources that would save to
fund the technology costs for the home.
That's a business plan.
I would encourage you to write those business plans
to your agency's operations folks to the extent that
there is an ROI associated with the proposal,
it should be reviewed and evaluated to the extent that
it does not add to their budget challenges.
Then it creates accountability for the
department to realize the goals that they put into the plan.
It links the accountability system with the investment
plan and it empowers.
There is, to my knowledge John,
no barrier that would prohibit such a discussion
as the agency level.
And if you have a difficult time engaging with these
business plans and they are legit and you believe them
to have a high ROI, we would welcome you presenting them
to us to say, hey, these are a collection of business
plans that could generate value across a wide range of goals.
But that's the kind of spirit that went into the
VA's benefits modernization program,
we're always open to that level of feedback and we
would certainly welcome your engagement with the agencies
on evaluating such things.
One last word, which is kind of interesting,
building on yours, not just budget neutral.
I've have a wolf pack that is working on hiring and
recruitment reform and it has a lot of 20 somethings
on it, just out of school and our IT shop had been
buying these big clunky portable things and this
wolf pack come in and said, you know we don't want all
these attachments and this big bulky thing.
One of the persons had a disability,
they couldn't carry his heavy thing around with them
and they were working, so they found these small
portable things with all this stuff built in now,
and guess what, it was like 60% of the cost of the big
clunky one.
And so you know when our IT shop was like,
oh, that's not on the list, I was like,
"Well get it on the list!"
So it's a no-brainer.
So I think any manager, you know when this is brought to
them, you know who's worth their salt,
will jump on it, so it's not just neutral,
we can actually I think achieve some savings.
Yes sir.
Bruce Warner, I'm with the Defense Acquisition University.
Couple comments, first is on the bottom line costs,
that's a good idea.
The other thing is I've been involved in researching
telework for about a decade now.
The first conference I ever went to,
the only place in the country that was having it
was in Denver which was doing it for pollution reasons.
At that time telework includes alternative work
schedules with compressed work schedules for a 9 day
pay period or a four day week,
both were included.
The reason there was to get less cars on the road to
reduce pollution because it's a bowl.
If you've never been there, there is no cross wind,
it has to sweep down from the mountains.
Does that definition still apply because many agencies
are using that to say we telework because we allow
people to have one day off a week?
The other part of the question is what's being
done to cut down the administrative costs to the
employee in that there's a questionnaire that comes out
that has 80 questions, things like is there
asbestos in your year old home?
Those questions, I think they're archaic,
and they've come from somebody who dug it out of a
tar pit someplace.
Can we try to get that question?
They are still used.
Is there a standard list of questions that can be sent
across all of government in spite of agency to ensure
these things?
We're working on that right now.
This year we didn't have the time to totally look at some
very dramatic overhauls, but we are- the employment
survey we're doing this year is going to be refreshed.
Some of the questions, because of rules and stuff
we couldn't get it done in time to get it done for this year.
But I've got a team looking at it.
We're adding more questions in,
we're looking at more work life issues,
more the balance issues.
There will probably still be some of those old crazy
questions, but I'm looking at other solutions.
Rather than 80 questions, why not 10?
I'm not saying the Gallop survey is the be all and end
all, but they have 12.
They have a short one that's seven.
So we are bringing together at OPM the best and the
brightest minds on this, you know I'm not a statistician
or a survey expert but we're going to bring together the
people who are the best and have them debate what is the
best way to do this survey so that we can easily
compare the data with the private sector and have a
good baseline going forward across the government.
I'm not sure, you know I don't want to say we've
already decided because obviously we haven't gotten
those people together.
This year's survey is going to follow the old model just
because of for time, and etceteras,
and printing, getting out and using what we needed to
do, we had to do it, but we're working on it for the future.
To your first one, I think you know I am a strong
proponent of workplace flexibilities and we're
looking at all of those.
Alternative work schedules, you know compressed
schedules, etceteras.
I think it's important that we go back to this point.
They are not mutually exclusive.
You can telework and still have an alternative work
schedule, but your telework day is not your day off and
it goes back to what my point is.
A telework day is a work day,
you are to be engaged in the workplace,
you are to be available for conference calls,
to be available for phone calls,
to be available to do whatever is needed to get
your job done.
So I don't want to where we have to be careful of
when we mix those terms is sometimes they get cloudy
and managers' heads or worse,
congressional heads where they think what we're
talking about is a day off, and we're not.
I am very happy to have people have alternative work
schedules, you know I am a big proponent and we're
looking at sort of the best buy model,
you know I care if the job gets done and the 1950s
model of chaining people to their desk for 8 hours is a
19th century model.
We need to get away from it, but we do need to be careful
how we portray this to the public because our semantics
could kill us because if the public or the congress think
telework is a day off we're dead,
and we've got to make sure we keep that separate.
Let's have one more question.
Well said.
Tony, go ahead.
Thank you, thank you for your comments,
both of you John and Aneesh.
I know that knowing Steven he's probably already made
this pitch, but on behalf of the sponsors and the
exhibitors I'd invite you both to come out and look at
some of the solutions that are addressing some
of these problems.
So on behalf of sponsors and exhibitors,
we'd like to have you out there.
We know that your time is precious,
but that would be most appreciated.
One more question.
Go ahead.
Betsy Giasaria with Department of Defense,
Washington Headquarters Services.
Given the tension that you touched on earlier with
managers tending to conflict telework days with a fancy
word for vacation or sick leave,
and the advantages you touched on earlier with
telework increasing work life flexibilities and
decreasing leave time, and absenteeism,
how do those two things jive if we're trying to say to
managers, you'll have a more productive workforce because
they won't be out so much, but it's not really vacation
time or sick time, and then we're trying to say it's
work life balance?
To me that presents a conflict.
Can you speak a little bit to that?
I'll go first and then we'll let Aneesh have a crack too.
I think, you know work life balance goes to breaking
what we were just talking about,
that 1950s mentality that you're only working if
you're at your desk.
We clearly know that is not true.
The results I gave you on my security clearance advances
where our team has got these things down to less than 40
days, all of that is from home,
working in that environment, that flexibility.
So they aren't chained to their desk.
One of the mentalities we broke is you don't need to
be chained to your desk, let these people go.
If they're spread out working from home,
I can get to neighborhoods and communities a lot faster.
You know what, we save money because they used to have to
fly from their concentric places,
now from their home they're spread out all across the
country, we can get to any neighborhood,
you know within a day, without having to put them
on an airplane.
So it's a realization.
Now the work life balance thing gets to the schedule
of sort of, you know I care about are they getting the
job done, we have daily goals and weekly goals for
example for our people who are doing these investigations.
If they can reach those goals and you know still be
involved in the school place or taking their elder care
or dealing with those situations,
we are very fine with that.
We are not micromanaging that they need to be
available to their phone from 8 to 5.
Some people like to get up at 4:30 in the morning and
work from 4:30 to 6:00.
God bless them, you know I can't do it,
but you know what I'm the opposite end of that spectrum.
My most productive hours of the day are probably 6:00 to 7:30.
So why not take advantage of that,
and if it means I'm taking a nap from 1:00 to 2:00,
who cares!
So we need to get away from that mentality,
we're going to wrestle with that.
But one of the things I ask all of you and I put this
broadly to the room, to help us and think about and get
us this, is we do need to break this management
mindset of telework is a day off.
That it seems to me is our biggest speed bump,
our biggest stumbling block.
Your suggestions and ideas, if you can get them to me by
email, how we do that, what should we be doing?
One of the ideas that's being batted around is we'll
get our most cynical sour managers in a room,
you know chain them to a desk,
deny bathroom privileges until they can give us,
you know what are your strongest arguments against
this, and help them help us design maybe a study.
And then bring in a third party so it's not a Aneesh
and me who are evangelists on this idea,
bring in a third party that they would,
let them pick and would study this and do the
measurements and all of this stuff.
I know study after study has been done,
but maybe we've got to have the actual cynics design the
study and then maybe then we can convince the cynics.
I don't know, I'm wrestling with what do we do,
so your help on this would be huge because we've got to
figure out how.
We're not going to achieve the culture shift unless we
can get over that speed bump.
Because this is the last question let me lift for a
moment on where that question from a policy
standpoint rests.
If you look at the President's approach to
change, there are some policy questions that would
enable the kind of innovations we all want to see.
In the energy debate, putting a price on carbon
creates the market conditions that would spur
the next wave of energy, clean technology solutions.
In the health care debate, shifting the focus from sick
care to well care and wellness will create the
market conditions for innovations that would allow
us to be healthier in our activities and for the
solutions providers to create that dynamic.
In this context, when you talk about your manager,
management by outcomes will create the market conditions
that would enable the technology investments that
should allow for, naturally speaking these telework
activities to happen.
So the core policy goal would be to ensure your
managers are engaged in a dialog or are on management
by outcomes because once they buy into that framework
then you can have any one of a number of conversations to
say how will my path get me to that outcome.
You can have a healthy debate.
That, I think lifts up some of the tension that John is
so struggling, you know this struggle around day off,
that muddles the story around the goal is the
outcome measure.
Put a price on carbon energy strategy.
Shift to wellness - health care strategy.
Manage by outcomes enables this innovation.
That's I guess the final minus two cents from my
shop, I'm a tech guy, what do I know.
Thank you all for your time.