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Legislation Will Expand Access to Telework and Ensure Accountability
Washington, D.C. – Today President Barack Obama signed Congressman John Sarbanes’ Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. This bill will expand telework opportunities for most federal workers, allowing employees to perform their duties and responsibilities from home or another off-site location.
“A robust telework program will not only improve government operations during a disaster, it can also be used as a tool to reduce traffic congestion in the DC area,” said Sarbanes. Telework has a positive impact on productivity, quality of life and the environment. If fully integrated, it can save taxpayers money by increasing efficiency, reducing federal office space and improving employee retention.”
The final version of this legislation passed the House in November after Congressman Sarbanes worked with Senators Akaka and Voinovich, authors of the Senate legislation, to craft the bipartisan amendment to the original House version. The Senate amendment was passed unanimously by the Senate in September and was included in the final version of the House bill.
“Telework programs offer a 21st century workplace option that can increase productivity, improve morale, reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and save office space costs," said original cosponsor Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA). "Telework is good government policy and passage of this legislation is a win-win for the federal government and federal employees across the country.”
The government lost $71 million worth of productivity for each day it remained closed during the blizzards that blanketed our region last winter, according to an updated estimate released by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). This estimate was reduced from a projected loss of $100 million per day, because roughly 30 percent of federal workers in the Washington area teleworked during the storm.
Once enacted, the bipartisan bill would:
• Instruct OPM to issue government-wide telework guidelines and require each agency to develop a telework policy for their employees;
• Designate a Telework Managing Officer within every agency and department to oversee telework within that agency or department;
• Provide greater access to and opportunities for telework training and education to both employees and supervisors, while providing employees electing to telework with greater protection against punitive treatment by supervisors and managers;
• Require each agency to integrate telework into its Continuity of Operations Planning, to insure agencies are able to function in the event of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack;
• Require the Office of Personnel Management to compile government-wide data on telework; and
• Require the Government Accountability Office to evaluate agency compliance, produce an annual report to Congress and make that report publicly available on the internet.
“Traffic gridlock in our region results in lost productivity, less time spent with families, and pollution that poisons our air and alters our climate,” said Sarbanes. “If more federal employees telework, not only will we improve their quality of life, we will relieve the overall strain on our transportation infrastructure and improve the daily commute for all area workers.”
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