Virtual Federal Systems – Nu Leadership Series

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Mohandas Gandhi

Many bureaucracies aren’t designed for non-traditional organizational structures. For over 17 years, I’ve worked in a federal environment. Weber, the Godfather of the bureaucratic organization, created this process to stabilize organizations. However, Weber’s conceptualization is flawed for organizations undergoing rapid change and uncertainty. Many change agents argue about the fixed nature of the government system. Today, the federal government exists in a bureaucracy that is rigid and inflexible. Let’s analyze this closer.

Some transformational leaders want to implement a government-wide telework program in the federal system. This shift would save money, reduce traffic in high congestion cities, and make the federal structure more virtual. Currently, there are over 140,000 federal employees working in a telecommuting environment since 2004. Many agencies cite telecommuting programs as an effective management tool. Telecommuting provides several key benefits including the promotion of employee work/life, the balancing thereof, and reducing commuting times. In addition, there is a decline in office space requirements and travel expenditures.

However, there remains stiff opposition to the federal sector opting for a virtual structure. There are several personnel management issues. Therefore, the government hesitates about a government-wide implementation. According to a study by the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, the federal government has made little progress in implementing telework program government wide despite fifteen years of presidential directives, legislative mandates, and pilot programs. Handy, author of The Age of Unreason, argues that clever organizations make the changes necessary to accommodate market changes. Therefore, it is essential that managers understand how to realign its organizations to support the socio-technical systems and take advantage of teleworking in the federal sector.

References:

Barr, S. (2005, December 12). A growing number of employees are staying away from the office. Washingtonpost.com, p. B02.

Crandall, W., & Gao, L. (2005). S.A.M. Management Journal, 70(3), 30.37.

Cyber Security Industry Alliance (2005). Making telework a federal priority: Security is not the issue, 1-9.

Handy, C. (1990). The Age of Unreason. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

© 2007 by Daryl D. Green