According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) needs to generate more reliable data on Federal telework.


OPM submits telework data annually to Congress to support oversight. Currently, the agency gathers teleworking data from Federal agencies through an annual data call, but this strategy limits the ability to compare teleworking data across several agencies, GAO said. That factor, along with unaddressed data issues cited previously by GAO, negatively impact the reliability of the agency’s telework data, the government watchdog said.


In 2016, GAO made recommendations to OPM regarding the reliability of its Federal payroll data system, including telework data. However, it said in its latest report that OPM has not developed a plan to address several recommendations, such as consistently monitoring error reports and strengthening internal control activities.


Robust and accurate telework data helps Congress and individual agencies manage and improve telework programs. Developing a plan to improve OPM’s telework data issues “would better position OPM to improve its reporting of telework and provide more accurate and useful information to Congress,” GAO said.


“As agencies contemplate the future of work for millions of Federal employees, it is important for OPM to have accurate data on Federal telework to support oversight,” reads the report. 


GAO recommended that OPM strengthen its controls for reviewing and validating telework data.

OPM disagreed with this recommendation but told GAO that it has taken several steps to mitigate data accuracy issues.


GAO also recommended that Congress consider requiring OPM to set a deadline to develop an implementation plan to improve the reliability of the information in its Federal payroll data system, Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI), including telework information.


According to the report, OPM has updated its main data warehouse on Federal employees, the EHRI database, to include data on telework to help align telework data across agencies, which GAO recommended. 

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.