Today and tomorrow are the ultimate test for Uncle Sam’s telework program. Currently about 25 percent of feds in the Washington area are telework ready. And that may come in very handy.
This week the government is moving heaven and earth (no pun intended) to handle the visit of Pope Francis to Washington. As it happens, he’s staying right down the street from Federal News Radio’s offices. His temporary home is directly across Massachusetts Avenue from the highly guarded Naval Observatory, which is also the gated community where Vice President Joe Biden hangs his hat.
Whether near or far, we will be impacted as the papal motorcade moves around town. The Pope will celebrate several masses in different locations, visit the White House and address a joint session of Congress.
We were warned traffic would be unbelievable. That’s something considering we already have the worst traffic in the nation on good days. But it will be unbelievable, the pros say, unless those of us who can telework, telework. And that’s assuming nothing goes wrong, Metro works (often a long shot) and there are no what we call “incidents.”
Not that long ago, teleworking was reserved for an elite group of workers who’s bosses either trusted them out of sight or couldn’t stand the sight of them. One OPM director teleworked one day per month to show Congress the agency was supporting the program.
When pushed by Congress to expand teleworking, many agencies threw up roadblocks. Who would pay for separate telephone lines (required for computer hookups in the darker ages). What about home offices and disability claims if injured at home? Defense even had a plan to make surprise visits on teleworkers. That idea was twofold: To inspect their homes for safety violations (who pays if a fed trips on a cord while on duty at home?) and to make sure that tricky bureaucrats weren’t sitting around in their PJs (or birthday suits) watching brain-sucking daytime TV, rather than doing their official duty.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
So if you are working today, lots of luck. If not, you might take time out to listen to our special planning for retirement radio show at 10 a.m. EDT.
Nearly Useless Factoid
The word “pajama” comes from the Indian word “piejamah,” a type of loose pant that was tied around the wearer’s waist.
Retirement Checklist: If they do it right, federal workers will have much better retirement than most American workers. Their defined benefit with inflation protection is almost unknown outside the federal government. But folks still need to touch some important bases. People need to know about civilian and military deposits, how to keep health insurance in retirement, the impact of Social Security on your future annuity, and survivor benefit considerations. Today at 10 a.m. benefits expert Tammy Flanagan and Philip K. Gardner from the Office of Personnel Management will walk you through the retirement process, whether you are 30 years out or planning to pull the plug this year. Listen if you can. Call in if you like (202) 465-3080 or better yet, email me your questions before show time.