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Flexible Work Options – Do they Exist in the Security Cleared Work Space?

Posted by Kathleen Smith

At the AFFIRM’s kick-off Luncheon the topic was 21st Century Management focusing on flexible work options for the federal government. The panelists included Sharie Bourbeau, Deputy Undersecretary for Management, DHS; Jack Penkoske, Director of Manpower, Personnel and Security, DISA; Cindy Auten, General Manager, Telework Exchange with Jane Norris of Federal News Radio moderating.

The panel discussion started with Cindy Auten, Telework Exchange sharing recent results from a study showing the need for telework options for the government to recruit and retain new workers especially Gen Y. Stating that the federal government is facing a critical loss in skilled professionals over the next four years due to retirement, many agencies are faced with how to find new employees who are more accustomed to flexible work options.

Shari Bourbeau, DHS, shared that the agency had just completed its week long COOP to determine its readiness in case of a disaster such as the H1N1 pandemic or weather related issues. This was to uncover policy, management or technical challenges that would hinder employees working at least one day at home. Ms. Bourbeau identified that there are many issues involved with allowing employees to utilize telework but the main one was trust and trust has to exist in any work environment. As Ms. Bourbeau had only recently joined DHS in June, she is still evaluating the challenges to overcome in order to implement a full telework program.

Jack Penkoske, DISA shared the challenges the agency faces with BRAC in 2011, with moving at least 4,300 jobs with more than 82% of this positions being scientific or technical from Virginia to Maryland. DISA has been very aggressive in providing flexible work options and wellness programs to their staff to be able to recruit and retrain their workforce. DISA employees can telework up to three days a week and has provided laptops for employees to work for home which are encrypted to mirror the agency’s server in order to overcome security issues. DISA also has a very extensive wellness program allowing employees to use the fitness facilities up to 3 hours a week without having to take leave or alter their schedule to work late to make up the time. Both the telework and wellness programs have more than quadrupled participants since both plans began in 2006.

All panelists agreed that flexible work options were critical for agencies to adopt, implement and enforce in order to recruit and maintained talented and security cleared professionals in the future. They encouraged employees who are interested in telework options to continue to bring it to their managements’ attention and voice their interest in participating in these programs.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:32 am

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