RD466 - Report on the Contractor Monitoring Pilot Program – October 28, 2020

Executive Summary:

The state of emergency due to COVID-19 has demonstrated beyond doubt the critical nature of remote work capabilities and resulted in an unprecedented scale of remote work in Virginia government. Remote work comes with challenges, including how to manage employees and contractors who are not in the same physical location as their manager. It should be noted that these same challenges can exist whether an employee is onsite or offsite. Remote work reinforces the need to manage by results achieved not by line of sight.

There is no one-size fits-all approach for management of remote workers. Productivity is context-specific, and managers must understand the work being done, be aware of how that work is done (including tools and methods used to do the work), and be able to review work product and assess results effectively. Managers must meet many interpersonal and management challenges, including engaging with personnel, team building, establishing processes and workflows, staying informed about work progress, and providing any necessary course corrections.

In accordance with the above budget language, DHRM and VITA collaborated to conduct a pilot study that used existing technology to compile certain network and system activity data on selected contractors at three agencies over multiple months. VITA personnel then normalized that data and transmitted it monthly to agency contacts, conferring with them to confirm that the data was useful and identify whether agencies wanted any additional information. Agencies found the data to be generally helpful but only part of managing remote work. Agencies did not observe activity suggesting fraud, waste, or abuse in the course of the pilot.

DHRM and VITA will continue to monitor the marketplace and evaluate available information, best practices, and tools. Mandatory employee monitoring tools raise a number of serious questions, from human resources to legal compliance and information security, and information available at this point does not suggest that such tools would be of benefit.

DHRM and VITA recognize the challenge of effective management of remote workers. DHRM is expanding available training and resources for remote management. VITA has prioritized tools for remote connectivity and interaction. Contracting strategies focused on effective and flexible remote work, such as deliverable-based contracting (rather than hourly or time and materials), will play an important role. The Commonwealth’s existing protections against fraud, waste, and abuse remain available in a remote work environment.