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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Government ending telework center funding

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Despite a new law allowing federal employees to work from home or other sites outside the office, about a dozen telework sites across the Washington region are losing federal funding.

The reason? Only about 300 federal workers -- less than one tenth of one percent of those working in the Washington area -- use the "telecenters" in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the General Services Administration. The agency provided about $3 million annually to help fund the sites -- or about $10,000 per user.

"Today telework has become less about where work gets done and more about how work gets done," GSA said in a statement. The wider availability of smart phones, Internet services in the home and wi-fi in public areas means the government no longer needs to rely on a federally-funded room full of computers, GSA said.

President Obama in December signed a law requiring federal agencies to appoint a telework manager and establish rules making it easier for eligible employees to work from home or other locations. Telework advocates argue the work-at-home option is an economical, environmentally-friendly option that should also ensure continuity of government operations during major weather events or other emergencies in and around Washington.

Here are the sites scheduled to either close or remain open with new sources of funding:

MARYLAND
Bowie -- closing
Frederick -- continuing
Hagerstown -- continuing at a different location
Laurel Lake -- closing
Prince Frederick -- closing
Waldorf -- closing

VIRGINIA
Fairfax -- continuing in GMU space
Fredericksburg -- closing
Manassas - continuing on George Mason University Manassas Campus
Stafford -- continuing - run by George Mason University
Winchester -- closing
Woodbridge -- continuing - run by George Mason University

WEST VIRGINIA
Kearneysville -- closing

Agree or disagree with the decision? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama and Jeb Bush to discuss education in Florida on Friday. First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan reads Dr. Seuss to kids. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is losing the "global P.R. war." Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates plays down the idea of sending troops to Libya. Supreme Court considers former attorney general John Ashcroft's liability in lawsuit.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT:
Federal agriculture, education programs among the first to face cuts: An Agriculture Department program was supposed to bring broadband to rural areas that didn't have it. Instead, it often brought broadband to suburbs that already did.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
2 U.S. airmen killed, 2 hurt in shooting near Frankfurt airport:
Early reports suggested that the alleged gunman, Arif Uka, 21, was a Kosovar Albanian and a devout Muslim who worked at the airport.

Petraeus apologizes for deaths of nine Afghan boys: They were collecting firewood to heat their homes in the eastern Afghanistan mountains when mistaken as insurgents by NATO helicopter gunners.

Navy fires destroyer commander, top aide after port troubles: The Navy said it lost confidence in the commander's to address what it called a pattern of unprofessional behavior by his crew that included fraternization, orders violations and disregard for naval standards.

Soldier in WikiLeaks probe faces more charges: The Army says it has filed 22 additional charges against Pvt. 1st Class Bradley E. Manning, the soldier suspected of providing classified government documents published by the WikiLeaks antisecrecy group.

Spy bloggers not 'friending' U.S. targets, Centcom says: A new social media "infiltration" software is designed to cozy up to extremist bloggers overseas, not law-abiding Americans chatting on Facebook or similar sites.

FDA:
FDA cracks down on unapproved cold and allergy drugs: About 500 products that had never been formally evaluated by federal regulators will be removed from the market.

FEDERAL RESERVE:
Fed's 'beige book' shows improvement in U.S. economy, moderate growth: The economy continued growing at a moderate speed at the beginning of 2011, with conditions improving gradually in a wide range of industries.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
White House has plan to increase sales of vacant, underused federal buildings: It hopes to recruit outside help to determine which office towers, courthouses and warehouses the government no longer needs.

IRS:
IRS announces new policies, programs to help taxpayers avoid liens: Since 1999, the IRS has increased annual lien filings by 550 percent, from 168,000 to last year's 1.1 million.

TSA:
TSA staff blew it: A passenger managed to waltz past JFK's ramped-up security gantlet with three boxcutters in his carry-on luggage -- easily boarding an international flight while carrying the weapon of choice of the 9/11 hijackers.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 3, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Next: Reaction to Westboro Baptist Church court decision

Comments

Frankly, working at home is NOT a good concept for people who are paid from taxpayer funds.

We, the People have provided work space in federal buildings, and if federal workers don't use this space, who will?

It is difficult enough to assure productivity when employees are in the sight of the supervisory class!

Perhaps the problem really revolves around the fact that the federal agencies have more employees than are needed.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 3, 2011 8:02 AM | Report abuse

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is losing the "global P.R. war".

If true, One good reason for this would be the fact that Hillary is just NOT a good spokesperson. Her speeches - whether long or short - are boring. She speaks in a monotone, and bottom line she is NOT believable.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 3, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

"Petraeus apologizes for deaths of nine Afghan boys: They were collecting firewood to heat their homes in the eastern Afghanistan mountains when mistaken as insurgents by NATO helicopter gunners."

Memo to President Obama and General Petraeus .. if you REMOVE all US and NATO troops from Afganistan, incidents like this just won't happen.

Killing unarmed civilians, especially children, makes more enemies among the civilian population ... bottom line our presence in Afganistan needs to terminate ASAP. Our being there is too costly in every which way, and is simply idiotic.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 3, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

"Petraeus apologizes for deaths of nine Afghan boys: They were collecting firewood to heat their homes in the eastern Afghanistan mountains when mistaken as insurgents by NATO helicopter gunners."

Memo to President Obama and General Petraeus .. if you REMOVE all US and NATO troops from Afganistan, incidents like this just won't happen.

Killing unarmed civilians, especially children, makes more enemies among the civilian population ... bottom line our presence in Afganistan needs to terminate ASAP. Our being there is too costly in every which way, and is simply idiotic.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 3, 2011 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Maybe "We the People" should improve the roads so that workers can get to work with less than a 2 hour commute.

Posted by: steve1231 | March 3, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, working at home is NOT a good concept for people who are paid from taxpayer funds.

We, the People have provided work space in federal buildings, and if federal workers don't use this space, who will?

It is difficult enough to assure productivity when employees are in the sight of the supervisory class!

Perhaps the problem really revolves around the fact that the federal agencies have more employees than are needed.


Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 3, 2011 8:02 AM

*******************************************

You sir are and idiot! You have clearly missed the point of the article as well as the REASONING behind telemarketing! I would explain it to you, but I'm sure you would be lost in the explanation.

Go back to plowing the fields, dusting the crops, or whatever Teabag party job you have. And then . . . go [blank] yourself Teabagger!

Posted by: TheChampisheretoo | March 3, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Hazmat77: This problem of getting our PR out there has been going on for a long time, not just the past two years. Your comment is simply silly and uninformed.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 3, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Given the choice between not working at work, not working at home, and not working at a "telework center," not working at home is the clear winner.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | March 3, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 3, 2011 8:02 AM
*******************************************
>>>>>>"Frankly, working at home is NOT a good concept for people who are paid from taxpayer funds."

And under what logic does that make sense? So only contractors and private sector employees should be given the opportunity to reduce their travel time and costs, lesson disruptions to their family life and have flexible working hours (to name a few)? Only private sector employers are allowed to benefit from improved employee morale, motivation and trust?

>>>>>>"It is difficult enough to assure productivity when employees are in the sight of the supervisory class!"

It sounds like you have trust issues and probably micro-manage others.

>>>>>>"Perhaps the problem really revolves around the fact that the federal agencies have more employees than are needed."

Possibly, but another explanation is that there is unequal distribution of current labor. Also, one reason so few people may be using the telework centers in the DC area may be due to 1) employees have the necessary equipment at home and don't need to go into a telework center 2) depending on where the employee is located, it may be just as easy to go into the office as it is the telework center 3) employees may be limited on the amount of time they can telecommute.

Telework (regardless of public or private use) has many benefits and it only makes sense for more to use it when feasible. If an employee has a bad work ethic in the office, it's unlikely that teleworking will improve it. The government agency I work for has a policy to revoke teleworking from unproductive employees. I can't speak for other agencies but I would assume there is something similar in place.

Posted by: TaxManCommeth | March 3, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I can get more work done at home, less stress on the crazy traffic and less office chatter. It is about time the govt closed the telecommuting centers.

Posted by: TexasTaxpayerBB | March 4, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

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