The Defense Logistics Agency, a civilian and military component supporting the Pentagon’s combatant command operations, notified employees on Friday that telework requests will be limited to two days per week.
Going forward, employees may request telework on Mondays or Fridays, or both. The 2022 master labor agreement between the agency and the union, the American Federation of Government Employees, dictates that employees report to the worksite 60% of the time.
The new telework policy takes effect for supervisors on Nov. 5 and for the rest of the 25,000-strong workforce on Jan. 2, 2024, a spokesperson told Federal Times. Roughly 70% of employees work in a telework-eligible position, according to employment data kept by the Office of Personnel Management.
“Situational telework and unscheduled telework can be arranged with supervisors on a case-by-case basis for instances such as emergencies, irregular situations, illness, and special projects,” a DLA spokesperson said.
Those hired under a remote work agreement are not affected by the decision. A union official representing DLA employees did not immediately return emailed requests for comment on Friday.
In 2020, like many other federal agencies, DLA transitioned its workforce to remote operations to keep employees safe from the spreading coronavirus. In statements at the time, the agency said it doubled the number of routine teleworkers and was well prepared to do so thanks to “years of work” modernizing the agency’s IT and increasing popularity of telework over time.
“Over the last decade, DLA has invested considerable time, effort and resources to enable a mobile DLA workforce,” said Eric Fegley, head of DLA’s Information Operations’ Customer Experience Directorate, in a statement in 2020. “We’ve put iPhones in the hands of a large percentage of DLA employees, and we have been leaders in the DoD in building out a virtual desktop environment that allows DLA employees to securely connect to the DLA network and perform their duties from anywhere.”
Then, at the beginning of 2023, the agency rolled out a one-year pilot program that allowed teleworking up to eight days per two-week pay period. Employees had to work within a “recallable distance” to the traditional worksite for designated core days, according to the plan. Alternatively, some employees could also work fully remotely.
More agencies have moved to curb telework this fall after the White House on Aug. 7 told agency heads to “aggressively” increase in-person work, as first reported by Axios.
As the government is reexamining the future of federal work, DLA, too, is taking a temperature read on its organization. In August, the department sent an anonymous survey to employees to better assess workplace culture, experiences and leadership.
Officials are aiming for a 75% response rate. As of Sept. 17, 40% of employees completed the survey.
According to the Partnership for Public Service’s annual Best Places to Work rankings, DLA sits at 201 out of 432 sub-agencies.
Several large and small agencies have moved to increase in-office work, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Transportation, Department of Justice, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Small Business Administration, and others.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.