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    Local federal workers get early holiday gift; Telework bill adopted

    It’s a stocking stuffer many federal workers in the Capital region have been anticipating for years – the authorization and ability to work for the government from home.

    On Nov. 18, the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 254-152 adopted the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, a bill that improves and expands teleworking in federal agencies by requiring them to establish a policy under which eligible government employees are approved to telecommute. The bill also instructs federal agencies to notify their workers of their eligibility to telework, and it establishes a Telework Managing Officer to develop and implement the program.

    The legislation, already approved by the Senate Sept. 29, now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature into law. The administration has previously stated its support for the bill.

    Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), one of the authors of the bill and a longtime advocate for telecommuting opportunities for federal workers, applauded the bill.

    “This legislation will bring the federal government into the 21st century,” Wolf said. “Telework programs implemented in the private sector have increased productivity, improved employee morale and saved operating costs. Increasing the number of federal employees who telework will not only improve their quality of life, but will also take cars off the roads, improve air quality and provide relief to commuters tormented every day by the traffic congestion in our region. Telework is good government policy.”

    Telework Exchange, an organization promoting federal telecommuting, hailed the bill’s passage in Congress.

    “Telework is an invaluable asset to the federal government,” said Cindy Auten, general manager of Telework Exchange. “It is a readily available productivity tool for employees. It saves agencies money and it helps protect the environment. The [bill] is a critical step in implementing and improving federal telework programs…”

    In advocating for the bill’s passage, Auten’s group pointed to research showing that a three-day-per-week teleworker can save almost $5,900 each year on commuting costs and prevent more than 9,000 pounds of pollutants from damaging the environment.

    Currently, only about 5 percent – or 103,000 – of the 1.9 million federal employees work remotely to some degree. Of the total workforce, 62 percent are eligible to telework. The Obama administration has set a goal of 150,000 government employees teleworking on a regular basis by next year – a 46 percent increase.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will cost almost $30 million to implement, but the bill’s supporters argue that longterm savings, once implemented, will more than make up for the cost.

    Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said the prospective savings will provide an “excellent return” on the up-front cost of the legislation, noting that private sector companies such as IBM save almost $56 million each year in reduced office space by allowing workers to telecommute.

    Another of the bill’s authors, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.), said the bill would have a “positive impact on productivity, quality of life and the environment.” He added that teleworking can also be “used as a tool to reduce traffic congestion in the D.C. Area …. it can save taxpayers money by increasing efficiency, reducing federal office space and improving employee retention.”

    Even with the bill’s anticipated enactment into law in the near future, not all federal employees will be eligible to work remotely, and many others will have limitations. If a federal worker has been previously disciplined for absenteeism, or for viewing illicit material online while at work, he would not participate. Some federal jobs cannot be done remotely, including law enforcement and air traffic controllers, and other workers who handle and view secure materials might not be able to participate.

    For more information, go to http://www.thomas.gov and t,ype ”HR 1722” in the Search box.

    Comments

    its complicated
    Short Sale


    If they want to implement expanded teleworking for Federal workers comparable to private sector workers, then let them assume the same risk as a private sector employee.  That is, if you don’t produce, you’re gone and they find someone more competent.  All I hear is Federal workers complaining about not being compensated comparably to the private sector.  Then take away your long term job security, generous retirement benefits, etc.  I know many hard working Federal employees who never complain (or take advantage of teleworking).  However, these 20% (or so) do 80% of the work.  I know, I’ve been there.


    I guess that my biggest complain is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to…“thin the herd”. Unless a Federal employee committs a major felony, he/she can look forward to permenent employment, raises and a good retirement no matter how they perform. If an employee doesn’t perform to some sort of standard for a position they are usually moved around until they land someplace where they can goof off unnoticed by goof off supervisors who don’t want to make waves in order to preserve their own jobs.
    The state of the economy makes no difference to Federal job security. More agencies are created resulting in more Federal hiring, but those agencies where the workload has decreased due to economic downturn don’t seem to be affected.
    Does anyone ever remember the RIF? Haven’t heard of that in years.
    End of Rant…I hope


    George - we’re not that far apart in our differences.  I applaude your daughters for not acting like some of the supervisors I know.  Some are great, and others are horrendous and definitely over-paid.  That however, should not wipe away, all the good work that many thousands of Federal employees perform every day.  Secret Service, FBI, OPM, etc…Although I see laziness and waste everday, I refuse to throw ALL Federal workers into the same bucket of dis-content, like so many people readily do here.  If we want REAL change with our government, it has to start from the top, not the bottom.  Lead by example, not wiht an iron-fist.  Motivate and reward employees for doing an outstanding job, like private companies do.  There is definitely room for reform, but not the way many have proposed, which is to privatize everything that moves…


    Flip..You obviously agree with me then…Thanks.
    ” There are a lot of slackers in Gov


    I like how George was all-too willing to throw his daughters under the bus.  There are a lot of slackers in Gov’t, but you cannot paint the entire gov’t with a broad brush and expect to get a true picture.  How quickly you forget Sept 11, 2001.  Many thousands of gov’t workers were in the thick of that, some sacrificing their lives, others helping out each other, along with the general population.  Remember the 5000+ aircraft that were removed from the air safely?  Government workers made that happen along with the pilots….And Hangar 7 hasn’t been talked about since the 1960’s…


    Shame on you.  There is a legitimate need to conduct business away from the office, especially for those of us who have medical reasons that limit our ability to commute.  I have worked from home for 6+ years, and I work more than the required 40 hrs and I’m much more productive because I don’t have the interruptions I had a the office.  Good employees do exist in govt.  Don’t put us all in that basket!


    Sounds like an automatic pay raise for telecommuters.
    Now all the folks that don’t get to telecommute will insist on getting that same pay hike for non-discrimination political correctness.
    Meanwhile this citizen shmuck continues to slog on hard commuting and paying the fat cats.
    The government elite continue their rise. Congratz! LOL!!11!
    The cash is going to run out soon. Are you prepared? jk/dw


    Steve…I know what you mean. I lived in Loudoun Co for almost 30 years (now retired in GA)and worked for several electronics firms who had dealings with the Fed. Gov’t. If you ever had to go to old Hangar 7 at Regan Airport to meet with the FAA it was like a trip to Disneyland.
    PS Hope my 2 daughters who still live in Loudoun and just retired from the Gov’t don’t read this or I’m in deep poop. LOL


    Steve/Cindy/George - Wow, that is really unfair.  Sure there is some dead weight but the majority of federal workers are dedicated and conscientious.


    From a contractor who has worked with gov’t employees for years, you’re dead on George!


    George Hays,

    Too funny!!  Thanks for the morning laugh!


    This is a great idea. Now the Gov’t employees won’t have to sleep in their chairs anymore with their feet up on the desk and risk falling to the floor. Look at the Billions saved in lawsuits and disability claims.

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