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Lewis, Larson, Davis, DeLauro Request Transparency for SSA's Telework Program

November 21, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (GA-05), House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson (CT-01), House Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (IL-07), and House Appropriations Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) sent a letter to Andrew Saul, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), to request transparency and more information after SSA abruptly ended a pilot telework program.

“SSA’s Operations division initiated the Telework Pilot in 2013 and has expanded the pilot significantly over the years. Today, roughly one-quarter of SSA Operations staff or 12,000 employees telework between one and two days per week…. While the SSA Operations Telework Pilot has existed for nearly six years, SSA apparently did not adequately evaluate the pilot and has not articulated its future plans for telework. Management’s failure to properly evaluate telework performance metrics while it was in a pilot phase should not be the rationale for suspending telework in its entirety,” wrote the Members.

The signed letter can be found here and the full letter can be found below.

 

November 21, 2019

The Honorable Andrew Saul
Commissioner
Social Security Administration
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235

 

Dear Commissioner Saul:

We write to request information about the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) decision to end the Telework Pilot on November 22, 2019 for all SSA Operations employees including Field Office, Teleservice Center, and Program Service Center staff.

SSA’s Operations division initiated the Telework Pilot in 2013 and has expanded the pilot significantly over the years. Today, roughly one-quarter of SSA Operations staff or 12,000 employees telework between one and two days per week.

Federal agencies use telework to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their workforce; to support staff recruitment, retention, and morale; and to mitigate potential disruptions to workplace productivity, such as severe weather. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), 7 in 10 federal employees who telework report that it improves their performance and three-quarters report that it increases their desire to stay at their current agency (2018 Federal Work-Life Survey). In a competitive job market where most employers now offer telework, OPM notes that “…the Federal Government must continue to maximize flexible work arrangements to attract and retain top talent if it is to compete with other sectors.”

While the SSA Operations Telework Pilot has existed for nearly six years, we are concerned that SSA apparently did not adequately evaluate the pilot, nor did it articulate its plans for assessing the impact of ending the pilot. In light of our concerns, please provide written responses to the following questions:

  1. How has SSA evaluated the Telework Pilot, and what did it find? Was the impact on employee productivity and customer service measured? Was the impact on employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention measured? What else was measured or evaluated?
  2. Why has SSA ended the Telework Pilot?
  3. What analysis, evaluation, or metrics did SSA use in making the decision to end the Telework Pilot?
  4. What specific performance goals does SSA hope to achieve as a result of ending the Telework Pilot?
  5. How does SSA intend to track and measure the impact of ending the Telework Pilot, including progress on the above goals as well as the impact if any on: customer service, productivity including mitigation of potential disruptions to in-office work; and employee recruitment, retention, and morale?
  6. What process will SSA use to determine future use and evaluation of telework in Operations?

We look forward to receiving your response no later than December 6.

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