FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Kara Gerhardt GSA 202-501-1231
Mike Russell NPR 202-632-0190
Wednesday, May 1, 1996
GAINESVILLE, GA--One of Georgia's oldest federal buildings, the U.S.Courthouse in Gainesville (circa 1910), today became the site of one of the area's newest federal facilities--an interagency telecommuting center which will enable part of downtown Atlanta's single largest group of employees--13,000 U.S. government workers--to continue serving their customers while at the same time temporarily removing them from the anticipated traffic and crowd congestion near their normal downtown Olympic Ring work sites.
The telecommuting operation and other workplace innovations which federal officials unveiled today are viewed as examples of a "reinvented" federal government that is beginning to work better and is able to adapt quickly to change. They are a partnership effort of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA); the National Performance Review (NPR); and Atlanta's Federal Executive Board (FEB), the city's top federal officials.
Vice President Al Gore, who heads the Clinton administration's reinventing government initiative, said: "In the midst of approximately two million visitors, we have to make it possible for federal workers to continue serving taxpayers like Social Security recipients, VA Medical Center patients, SBA customers, Food and Drug Administration clients, and others. The Olympics give us the opportunity to use Atlanta and its large federal work force as a model for concepts that will make the entire federal government work better and cost less."
"To avoid any interruption of government service during the Olympics, we will temporarily relocate up to 35% of the federal work force by incorporating state-of-the art technology and innovative ideas. Atlanta will demonstrate to the rest of the federal government inventive ways to do the nation's business."
David J. Barram, acting Administrator of the GSA, with Vice President Gore participating electronically from the White House, officially opened the Gainesville center. It is the first of up to four GSA interagency telecommuting centers to be opened in the Atlanta area.
"With Atlanta's need to reduce congestion, combined with the federal government's desire to create quality work environments for employees, we have begun a promising program in telecommuting centers," said Barram. "These centers will save time on the road, reduce stress on families and save taxpayers money by increased productivity in the workplace."
Representing the Atlanta federal community, Gordon Sherman, Regional Commissioner of the Social Security Administration and Chair of Atlanta's FEB, said: "Atlanta's federal workers want to be good citizens and we'll do what it takes to help the Olympics run smoothly. The telecommuting center and other state-of-the-art initiatives will help us keep up our world class service to our customers."
SELECTED FEDERAL AGENCY OLYMPIC PERIOD WORK PLANS
Federal Emergency Management Agency--FEMA's workload includes responsibility for coordination of rapid federal emergency response during the Olympics as well as availability during current hurricane season. FEMA will set up an alternate operations and coordination center outside of downtown Atlanta, at the Cobb County Fairgrounds, equipped with necessary communications and ADP requirements for emergency operations. Employees will have maximum flexibility in choosing work hours/work site.
Social Security Administration-- 400 employees in Olympic Ring. Will move some workers to centralized offsite location, telecommute where possible, temporarily transfer some functions to other SSA sites. Will share space at offsite federal offices.
U.S. Court of Appeals--150 judges and staff in Olympic Ring. No sessions in Atlanta headquarters during Olympics except for emergency sessions. Will use Montgomery, Jacksonville, or Miami sites. Court will implement night shift to receive deliveries, process and deliver large volume of daily mail from litigants, nine District Courts within Circuit. 25% of staff will telecommute.
VA Medical Center--Will remain accessible to patients with full staff of 1,600. However, VAMC has prepared new Olympics-based guide for patients suggesting best travel routes to center, best travel times, new parking details. VAMC is Atlanta Area Federal Coordinating Center for National Disaster Medical System, which would be activated under Federal Response Plan in event of disaster.
Department of Housing and Urban Development--440 employees in Olympic Ring. Will lease temporary space beyond highway I-285 (outside Olympic area). Will allow no-cost detailing of HUD employees to offsite or out-of-state offices where they can perform in working capacity. No travel or per diem costs will be paid by HUD, but employees may find option attractive to both work and visit family or friends at own expense yet not expend annual leave.
Department of Health and Human Services--Will reduce on-site staff by 30% for duration. The Food and Drug Administration Atlanta Complex and Southeast Regional Laboratory are located within the Olympic Ring. FDA will put in place a flexible work band, from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM , so personnel can work around expected congestion times. Only compliance and emergency samples will be analyzed by SRL. Work-at-home will be encouraged, with expanded voice mail and call forwarding capabilities.
USDA (Agriculture) Food and Consumer Service--131 employees in Olympic Ring. One to offer home as satellite office for four others. Others will telecommute or be temporarily stationed offsite. Forest Service employees have been encouraged to accumulate "Olympic Comp-time" to be taken only during 6-1 to 9-1 time frame. Field work assignments and work-at-home have been approved for some employees.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--1,200 employees within Olympic Ring. Will reduce number by more than 50% for duration of Games. Extended flextime will be put into effect; new office hours from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Employees urged to telecommute or work-at-home where appropriate, with heavy use of GSA Telecommute Centers.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers--Will adjust work hours, beginning flex time as early as 5:45 AM and ending as early as 2:30 PM. Workers can also come in as late as 10:00 AM and stay until 7:00 PM (before and after anticipated traffic jams). Also forming government van pools to areas with parking spaces for van pools only.
U.S. Department of Justice--Trustee Program, which supervises U.S. Bankruptcy Code cases, will extend meeting hours, increase work rooms prior to Olympics--doubling number of cases handled weekly. Meetings then suspended from July 5 through August 9, 1996. Extra hours, extra rooms then resume--doubling number of cases handled daily until backlog eliminated. This procedure will eliminate over 10,000 trips into Olympic Ring.