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OPM ends flexible-schedules experiment after mixed success

Mar. 13, 2012 - 03:33PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry says the agency will not continue its experiment with extremely flexible work schedules because the program ended with mixed results.
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry says the agency will not continue its experiment with extremely flexible work schedules because the program ended with mixed results. (File photo / Office of Personnel Management)

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry on Tuesday said his agency will not continue its experiment with extremely flexible work schedules because the program ended with mixed results.

The Results-Only Work Environment pilot program allowed about 400 OPM employees in Washington and Boyers, Pa., to decide on their own when and where they would work, as long as their work got done. OPM launched ROWE to much fanfare in June 2010, and Berry frequently spoke that year about his hope that it would radically overhaul the federal government's workplace culture, and lead to a new way of managing employees.

But Berry has barely mentioned the program over the last year. And he told reporters Tuesday morning that ROWE "was a mixed bag."

"In some cases things went up, in some cases things went down," Berry said at the Federal Managers Association conference in Arlington, Va. "Overall the shift wasn't dramatic."

Berry said that employees' goals which were a crucial element for ROWE to succeed weren't set clearly enough, and the metrics used to hold employees accountable for getting their work done were also lacking. Communication between employees and managers also was not clear, he said, and OPM didn't do enough training during the beginning of the program.

"We tried it, and we gave it a good run," Berry said. "We've wrapped up the pilot, essentially, so we're not doing it anymore."

Berry said the lessons learned from ROWE will help with other initiatives, such as the new Goals-Engagement-Accountability-Results, or GEAR, performance management program. Berry said OPM is still reviewing data from the ROWE program, but was not sure when the final report will be finished and released.

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