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Committee Passes Bipartisan Gianforte-Connolly Telework Bill

Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passed H.R. 4171, the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program, a bipartisan measure that extends a pilot program promoting telework in federal agencies.The bill was introduced by Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT) and Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

“With the vast geography of Montana, teleworking makes it easier for the federal government to recruit and employ well-qualified Montanans, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has done,” Congressman Gianforte said. “This program has saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and has helped recruit and retain outstanding employees that would otherwise be unavailable if they were required to work out of the USPTO’s office in Alexandria, Virginia. I strongly support the extension of the teleworking pilot program and will continue working to ensure teleworking is used responsibly and with accountability to taxpayers throughout all federal agencies.”

“The Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program is a win-win for federal employees and the government,” Congressman Connolly said. “By expanding telework options we’ve improved the continuity of operations at the Patent and Trademark Office, reduced commute times and improved morale for federal employees, and saved the federal government more than $77.4 million in 2016. Innovative solutions like telework must continue to be a tool for a modern and efficient federal government.”

The Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program (TEAPP) is part of the Telework Enhancement Act, legislation cosponsored by Connolly and signed into law in 2010. The pilot program encourages federal agencies, particularly the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to expand teleworking opportunities. TEAPP allows employees to work from anywhere in the country where they choose to live. In exchange for this flexibility, the requirement that PTO pay their travel costs for mandatory trips back to the agency’s headquarters for any meetings or training is waived.

USPTO embraced the concept, expanding its full-time teleworking workforce to allow employees to reside anywhere in the country. As a result of the pilot program, USPTO saved taxpayers $77.4 million in fiscal year 2016, including $17.1 million in avoided real estate costs. Currently, 166 Virginians take advantage of Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program. H.R. 4171 would extend the pilot program, which is set to expire in December, for three more years.

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