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House approves telework bill

By Lisa Rein

By The Post's Lisa Rein:

The House approved legislation Wednesday that would jumpstart the federal government’s telework program by expanding work-at-home options. The vote was 290-131.

A similar bill passed the Senate in May, and the policy has broad support from the Obama administration. A new survey of federal workers released this week found that just 10 percent do their jobs from home.

Under the measure, agencies would be required to appoint a telework managing officer, with the goal of setting up a policy that boosts participation. Workers who handle secure or classified information would still report to the office. Work from home would be permitted as long as it doesn’t hinder the agency’s operation. The Government Accountability Office would be required to gather data on whether the program is working.

Supporters, including sponsors John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) say the Telework Improvements Act would save millions of dollars a year in lost productivity during weather-related shutdowns. With fewer cars on the road, air pollution and commuting costs would go down, they say.

Opponents had cited concerns about potential breaches of computer security and worries that workers might not answer calls if they’re at home.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Lisa Rein  | July 14, 2010; 4:17 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

I prepare travel vouchers for FEMA employees who travel to disasters. What with the way things are going electronically, I feel confident that I could do this from my home.

I feel that it would save taxpayer dollars because I wouldn't have to travel to disasters, rent a car, live in a hotel, and collect per diem.

Now that I think about it, I'd be making a lot less money. May not be such a good idea after all! But it could be done!

Just a thought!

Posted by: Mysty | July 14, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

@ Mysty... why are you traveling to disaster areas if you're only the person to prepare travel vouchers. Don't make sense and sounds like a big waste to me. Sounds like FEMA needs some serious financial oversight!

In regards to the article... this may sound good on paper, or have Congressional support, but the reality is that 90% of fed managment will ignore this or paste lipstick on a pig. Just like the NSPS or other issues that was mandated on the federal work force, esp at DoD, they will implant some rogue person as the telework managing officer who will be the "brass and polish" person wielding rules and be unaccountable. Unless Congress appoints an outside authority to show good oversight of that office and effort... this will go no where and be a complete failure (except the few good old boys inside the beltway. ie. Pentagon).

Look at how and why NSPS was a failure. It wasn't the theory of the concept; it was the oversight of how it was implemented. Congress basically let the wolves manage the sheep! They forced a corrupt system down our throats, wasted millions so-called implementing, abused the pay pools and Congress wonders why it failed!

We need to elect people of Congress that are not political veterans, not corporate purchased and have an IQ with a little intelligence. Not just a family name, a sizable bank account and a character for a soap box! THINK election time!

I predict this will be another failure for the fed workforce... and management will surely find blame on the unions or the workers! Mark my words!

Posted by: darbyohara | July 15, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Darby O'Hara hit the nail on the head. Telework MUST be ENFORCED by a neutral entity, and NOT OPM. OPM has proven over and over to be a toothless tiger in implementing programs across the executive branch, and in particular, at DoD. DoD bosses are so timid about telework so that uniformed people, who have to "report" to their "duty station" every day, aren't offended. There's a kind of paranoia about not seeing an employee at his or her desk. The boys and girls on the Hill STILL don't get the hint. Expect to see bright red lipstick on the pig.

Posted by: frankatty | July 15, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I concur with Darby. Managers here (HUD Albany, NY) force us to submit pre & post daily telework logs. If we fail to list enough subjective busy work on the logs we cannot telework for that day (HUD in Albany, NY).

The oversight for telework is 5x that of on-site work. Seriously, if we are getting the proper number of widgets completed in the proper timeframe, et cetera, without any issues, why are we being micro-managed? There are numerous ways to stay in touch (email, IM, phone).

Just another roadblock to reducing the number of staff teleworking.

Posted by: NewYorkMBA | July 20, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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