Congress has taken steps to increase federal workers’ mobility and embrace technology. The Telework Enhancement Act sets up a framework for employees to work remotely. President Obama’s open government initiative and the Office of Management and Budget’s 25-point IT reform plan are also policies that encourage a more technically-powered workforce.
But these policies have not translated into reality. Governments’ efforts to offer employees “portable technologies, advanced collaboration tools, and mature telecommuting initiatives” are still in their “infancy,” according to the report.
“There are hurdles,” said TJ Keitt, an analyst at Forrester Research and the author of the report. “There’s the technical hurdle obviously, but there’s also the culturaal hurdle – the idea that managers need to be able to see their employees to make sure they’re doing their jobs correctly; managers need to be able to see their employees to make sure they’re on task and also being able to feel their employees are earning their money.”
In order for the reality of the federal workforce to catch up with the policies, “these are things that have to be overcome,” Keitt said.
Currently, federal employees do have access to technology – but it’s at home. The report found 39 percent of those surveyed said they had better technology at home than at the office. Only 9 percent use a smart phone for work.
“Technical innovation is coming out of the private sector and the consumer realm,” Keitt said. “The iPhone wasn’t something that was developed for the DoD; it was developed by Apple for consumers.”