(Update) NASA Goddard Management's Telework Rules

Keith's update: I just had a chat with GSFC management. In a nutshell this pandemic and telework has gone on longer than anyone expected and it will go on for quite some time - well into 2021. As such, people and policies need to constantly adapt to an uncertain and ever changing future. You can expect some clarification from GSFC management soon including a request from the GSFC workforce for employee input on how to better adjust existing rules, clarification of those rules and safety concerns, and the reality of trying to telework during a global pandemic.

Please try to help your management help you - and reciprocate when they seek your assistance.

Keith's note: Last week I posted an item "NASA Goddard Is Confused About Its Own COVID-19 Polices" about NASA GSFC wherein an employee whose creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic was officially praised in an official NASA GSFC publication and then repudiated days later. The issue arose when the Center Director Dennis Andrucyk was away on leave and his Associate Center Director Raymond Rubilotta who was acting in his absence. Rubilotta issued a memo and decided to get tough on people who took hardware home (with formal approval) so as to continue their work while avoiding unsafe health conditions at work due to COVID-19. GSFC Chief Technologist Peter Hughes ran with that and issued another memo. Sources now tell me that the local GSFC union is involved and that employees are lawyering up. Inquiries from employees across the agency ask if this is applicable to their work at home at their center.

So I sent an inquiry on 31 July and got a meandering non-answer from GSFC PAO. It was clear that they were trying to deflect the issue since they had no real answers. So I sent another request on 31 July asking for more specifics. No response. At a time when all NASA employees - from top to bottom - are making significant sacrifices to continue do their jobs it border on managerial malpractice to give employees whiplash by praising and then pivoting and criticizing them for the same exact same innovative way they employed to help keep NASA's work underway.

I sent a third request today. Let's see how - or if - NASA GSFC responds. Here's what I said:

"I sent a second request (below) to you 4 days ago and have not heard back. Here is a third request. With regard to the recent memo (below) regarding GSFC employees taking things how to work on:

- Can you send me the text of the actual policy that governs work at home regulations at NASA GSFC as they apply to taking material and instruments offsite?
- Do these policies apply to Wallops Flight Facility or any other GSFC-managed locations?
- Is this a GSFC-specific policy or a NASA-wide policy?
- Is this policy formalized within NASA policy documents (formalized text, approval date, expiration date?) If so can you provide me with the formal citation and a copy of the pertinent policy texts?
- When was the policy distributed to GSFC employees? If it has not then why has it not distributed and when will it be distributed?
- If the GSFC policy prohibits the movement of materials and equipment by employees to offsite locations why did GSFC formally approve the actions during the onset of pandemic work conditions? Was a waiver issued? If so - then who issued the waivers? Who approved the original requests?
- Will any of the employees who adhered to management approval to move things off-site be penalized for having done so? If so then what is the nature of their punishment?
- Does GSFC have policies regarding the offsite use of other hazardous hardware such as laptops (rechargeable batteries can catch fire) and liability provisions in case these laptops cause damage?

FYI I am told that your local union is now involved and that employees are lawyering up. I have also gotten messages from people across the agency who are wondering whether this is an agency-wide policy and if their currently-approved work at home efforts using NASA equipment are in jeopardy. You do know that there are people working at home in California who are using government systems in their houses to drive rovers on Mars.

I will assume by default that no response by COB today will be a de facto statement that no response will be forthcoming from NASA.

Keith Cowing

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 4, 2020 4:17 PM.

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