Report Summary

Title: Alleged Improper Locality Pay for Teleworking Employee
Report Number: 18-03251-88 Download
Issue Date: 2/18/2020
VA Office: Office of General Counsel (OGC)
Report Author: Office of Special Reviews
Report Type: Administrative Investigation
Release Type: Unrestricted

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated an allegation that an employee in the VA Office of General Counsel’s District Contracting National Practice Group was approved to move his/her office from Pittsburgh to Altoona, Pennsylvania, but continued to improperly receive the higher locality pay for the Pittsburgh area. The OIG substantiated that the employee’s telework agreement did not comply with applicable regulations, which require an employee to report to his or her official worksite twice per pay period when the employee is not in a permanent telework arrangement. In this instance, the employee’s official worksite was Pittsburgh and the employee’s supervisor had approved an exception to accommodate the employee’s caregiving needs for a family member. This approval occurred in 2008, and the telework arrangement remained in effect through at least November 2017. Although exceptions can be granted on a temporary basis, there is no discretion to grant a permanent exception to the requirement that a teleworking employee report to his or her official worksite twice per pay period. There was no evidence that the employee’s supervisors ever reassessed the telework arrangement to determine whether it continued to be appropriate. The OIG determined that the employee and the employee’s supervisors took appropriate corrective action once the issue became known in November 2017, prior to the initiation of the OIG’s investigation. The OIG did not identify any evidence to suggest that the failure to reassess the employee’s telework circumstances was the result of an intentional effort to improperly impact the employee’s locality pay. Accordingly, the OIG did not substantiate misconduct. The OIG makes one recommendation relating to the need to clarify the authority and obligations of telework-approving supervisors within the Office of General Counsel.