Telework Legislation Sails Through House; Advances to Obama’s Desk
Last week, the House passed the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act, H.R. 1722, a bill that requires agencies to develop telework programs for eligible employees. Passed by a 254-152 vote margin, the legislation now advances to the President Obama’s desk, where his signature would finally deliver a concrete telework policy for the federal workforce.
The legislation mandates that federal agencies determine which employees are eligible for telework and establish regulations under which they would be able to work remotely. To oversee the new program, each agency is required to appoint a telework managing officer. Furthermore, the legislation requires agencies to incorporate the new telework program into their continuity of operations plan for natural or security emergencies.
Implementation of the new policy is estimated to cost $30 million over the next five years, a sum which will undoubtedly pay for itself over time. Just last winter, when a freak snowstorm blanketed the nation’s capital in two feet of snow, telework-eligible employees saved the government an estimated $30 million in productivity, while many of their co-workers were snowed-out of their offices. According to GSA estimates, if implemented the policy could save the federal government $2.3 billion annually through increased productivity.
Sponsored by Reps. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), the bill includes a number of cost and workplace efficiencies that would benefit both the federal workforce and the American taxpayer. With more employees working from home, roads would be less clogged, pollution lessened, and many employees better able to address the challenges of working-parenthood. Fiscally speaking, federal agencies would save on utilities, office space, parking arrangements, transit subsidies and others costs associated with housing on-site employees.
“Good-government policies like telework help the government recruit and retain top talent, save money, and increase productivity,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “All around, this bill is a win-win for federal workers and taxpayers.”
There is no indication as to when President Obama may sign the legislation; however he has issued a number of statements supportive of telework.