Audit: Louisiana agencies weren’t prepared to work from home

Louisiana

A student listens to a live lecture on a laptop computer at home during a remote learning class in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Illinois reported 1,337 new coronavirus cases Wednesday as the state’s positivity rate dropped below 4% for the first time in weeks. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Most Louisiana state agencies didn’t have work-from-home policies before the coronavirus pandemic and struggled with technology challenges when told to allow employees to work virtually, according to an audit released Monday.

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office surveyed administrators and workers across 32 state agencies about telework policies and found 56% of the agencies didn’t have a policy allowing people to work from home ahead of the virus outbreak.

When agencies were asked to allow employees to carry out jobs remotely if possible, many had inadequate equipment, connectivity problems and insufficient automation of their processes, auditors found. Nearly 84% of agency leaders who responded to the survey and 47% of workers reported “barriers related to technology.”

In the early days of Louisiana’s coronavirus outbreak, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order that called for nonessential employees to work from home. That order was lifted months ago, but the Democratic governor has urged state agencies to allow as many workers as possible to telework as the virus again surged.

Auditors recommended that Louisiana’s civil service department develop minimum statewide regulations for remote work and assist agencies in developing policies and that the state’s technology services office be involved in defining what equipment is needed for telework. Both agencies agreed.

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