Nearly 8 percent of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ workforce is eligible to work remotely. Yet the agency needs to do a better job of managing them, according to a Government Accountability Office audit.
About 47,000 of the VA’s 370,000 employees were eligible for telework as of September 2016, and more than 50 percent of the 5,200 Veterans Service Representatives and Rating Veterans Service Representatives had approved telework arrangements as of February 2017. A lack of data, however, impacts the ability to gauge the telework option’s efficiency.
“The telework status of hours worked by VSRs and RVSRs was not systematically reported in VATAS [VA time and attendance system] during the two time periods we examined,” auditors said. “As a result, we determined that data in the VATAS system is not sufficiently reliable for an analysis to determine any impact of telework on employees’ ability to process disability compensation claims.”
In March 2017, the VA ordered that telework hours be recorded, but the agency has not disseminated that information and not all headquarters staff are aware of it.
“Federal internal control standards call for management to develop monitoring activities and evaluate the results,” said auditors. “Without such monitoring, VA and VBA [Veterans Benefit Administration] are limited in their ability to assess the possible impact of telework on employee performance.”
GAO recommended that the VA update its policies, ensure that telework hours are recorded and make certain that employees know this.