The Federal Government mandated in 2000 that executive agencies establish a policy that would enable employees to participate in teleworking without negatively impacting employee performance. This legislation both improves the flexible work environment for existing Federal employees and attracts other top recruits to the Federal workforce. Additional legislation has passed over the years to improve the policies, conditions, and reporting requirements of the Federal Telework program. The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, Public Law 111-292, requires that all agencies annually report telework data to the US Office of Personnel Management. Furthermore, this law mandates that proper training and oversight be conducted for all employees eligible for a Telework program. In 2012, 14,559 employees at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were eligible for telework, and 4,256 were on telework agreements. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) found that managing the telework agreement approval process and generating accurate reporting was a cumbersome and time consuming process.
The NIDCR wished to expedite the process of approving, denying, and terminating new and existing federal employee telework agreements. They also aimed to improve the quality and efficiency of reporting to OHR on the telework status of employees.
NetComm worked closely with the telework coordinators at the NIDCR to identify the top challenges and gaps for the existing process of approving and reporting on telework agreements. We leveraged the automated processes, functionality, reporting capabilities, and data from our Beacon product line to create an electronic form routing of the telework agreement process in our eForms module to meet those needs. This included:
- An automated flow of new employee information into a centralized online database
- Single access point for reviewing and reporting on the approval process
- E-mail notifications and alerts to facilitate faster approval of agreements
- Direct employee access to input telework agreement data
- Electronic signatures, workflow routing, and internal messaging for a streamlined interaction between employees, supervisors, telework coordinators, and executives in the review and oversight of approval process
- Standardized and custom reporting options for telework coordinators and administrative personnel
- Dashboard reporting on open, unsigned, or active agreements with trend analysis capabilities
In 2012, the two biggest challenges the NIDCR faced were slow telework renewal periods due to paper form routing and cumbersome reporting due to data input challenges. In January 2013, the NIDCR began using the Beacon Telework eForm. 90% of the first wave of eligible employees fully renewed their telework agreements within 3 days. The Telework Coordinators could quickly run reports on the telework information captured within the database, and were prepared to respond to data calls and annual reporting requests from Congress. The government labor hours required for the approval process was dramatically decreased as e-mail notifications and electronic routing expedited the sending of the form to each party involved. Significantly less paper was used in the entire renewal and reporting process, meeting guidelines set by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
“This is amazing! This system will probably accomplish in a day or 2 or 3, what paper could accomplish in a month, or more, and what our old system couldn't accomplish in...well ever.” – Satisfied Beacon eForms customer