Release: Bill to Increase Telework by Federal Workforce Wins Final House OK

f t # e
Washington, DC, November 19, 2010 | comments
Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Frank Wolf (R-VA) to jumpstart the federal government's telework program won final passage in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday and is being sent to the President, who is expected to sign it into law. Read more.
share: f t

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Frank Wolf (R-VA) to jumpstart the federal government’s telework program won final passage in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday and is being sent to the President, who is expected to sign it into law. 

“There is no workforce on the planet that lends itself better to telework, yet the federal government lags behind the private sector and local governments in implementing this common sense program.  This legislation will change that and prepare the federal government for the future,” Connolly said.  “Besides saving money and increasing productivity, this legislation will help the hard-pressed commuters of our region because it has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of cars on our roads.”

The Connolly-Sarbanes-Wolf bill -- the Telework Improvement Act (H.R. 1722) -- first passed the House in July and was sent to the Senate for consideration.  Today’s House vote was required to concur with some minor Senate amendments. 

Connolly said the legislation meets several critical policy goals including: reducing traffic congestion and associated air pollution from vehicle emissions, particularly in the Washington metropolitan area; lessening dependence on foreign oil; ensuring the federal government can recruit and retain highly-qualified employees at a time when 48 percent of the federal workforce is eligible to retire in the next decade; and improving national security by enhancing the federal government’s ability to cope with natural disasters, terrorist incidents, and other emergency situations.

“We can get people out of their cars and increase productivity at the same time with a robust federal telework program,” Connolly said.  “We saw the benefits earlier this year during the back-to-back snowstorms when federal workers, who teleworked while the federal government shut down for four-and-a-half days, saved $30 million a day by avoiding productivity loss.”

The legislation expands telework in the federal government, requires every federal agency to designate senior-level employees to implement telework, makes telework a central element of federal agencies’ plans to cope with a natural or manmade emergency, and requires annual reports from agencies to ensure the Telework program is meeting expectations.

Currently only 6 to 10 percent of the federal workforce telework on a regular basis, compared to a 20 percent participation rate by county employees in Fairfax County, Virginia, the Washington area’s largest jurisdiction, and nearly 33 percent at AT&T.  “We need to do more to promote telework in the federal government and this bill lays the groundwork to accomplish that goal,” Connolly said.

“According to a recently completed survey from the Office of Personnel Management, at least 64% of federal employees are eligible to telework, yet most are not allowed to do so by their managers. The Telework Improvements Act will help change management culture to support telework,” he said.


As Chairman of the Fairfax County Supervisors, Connolly championed Telework for government and private sector employers in the county of 1.1 million people.  As Chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Connolly challenged local governments to increase telework across the region.  Now he is using his expertise in telework to seek expansion of the program in the federal government.

# # #

House Floor Statement of Congressman Gerald E. Connolly
Telework Improvements Act, HR 1722
November 18, 2010

The Telework Improvements Act is an extraordinarily important piece of legislation because it will help us meet critical policy goals: savings of taxpayer money, improved federal efficiency, reduction of dependence on foreign oil, and improvement in Continuity of Operations Plans.  I thank Congressman Sarbanes, Congressman Wolf, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, and Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch for their leadership.

This legislation will save taxpayer money, and is PAYGO compliant.  My colleagues will recall that the federal government was shut down for a week this winter due to snow.  Regardless of whether future federal closures are due to snow, other natural disasters, or a potential terrorist attack, telework is an essential part of our Continuity of Operations Plans that allow the federal government to stay open despite disruptions to our transportation infrastructure.  This February, the federal government saved $30 million every day by achieving a 30% telework rate during the snow storm.  Each additional percentage point of telework achievement would have represented another million dollars saved for taxpayers.  Let us not forgo that savings for taxpayers in the future.
 
Telework is an essential part of federal personnel policy because it can help recruit and retain federal employees, maintain continuity of operations in the event of an emergency, and reduce congestion and related air pollution.  With 48% of the federal workforce eligible for retirement within the next five to ten years, we must provide benefits that attract highly qualified employees.

Telework is an important and cost-effective component of efforts to reduce congestion, greenhouse gas pollution, and smog.  According to the Telework Exchange, if 20% of Americans teleworked, we could eliminate 67 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and reduce Persian Gulf oil imports by 40%.  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would lead to a reduction in ground level ozone in our region, which is critically important to protect the health of our region’s seniors and other residents suffering from with respiratory ailments or asthma.

Today, less than 10% of eligible federal employees telework on a regular basis, even though the largely white collar workforce in our region is well suited for telework.  By contrast, Fairfax County, the largest suburb of the National Capital Region, has 20% of eligible employees teleworking at least one day per week, and other jurisdictions from this region are approaching that regional target.  The Telework Improvements Act provides a vehicle to increase telework participation by designating a Telework Managing Officer from within current staff for each agency and by integrating Continuity of Operations Planning performance metrics.  

According to a recently completed survey from the Office of Personnel Management, at least 64% of federal employees are eligible to telework, yet most are not allowed to do so by their managers. The Telework Improvements Act will help change management culture to support telework.

I urge my colleagues to support the Telework Improvements Act, which will improve the efficiency of the federal government, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and improve our national security.

InsideNova

Bipartisan bill will promote telecommuting in Prince William

After a couple of year’s work, a couple of Virginia Congressmen and another from Maryland have shepherded a bill through Congress that would encourage more federal workers to telecommute.

Congressmen Frank Wolf, R-10th, Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly, D-11th and John Sarbanes, D-Md., sponsored the Telework Improvements Act that implements a telework policy, determines federal employees’ eligibility to telework and informs employees of their eligibility.

Connolly said the bi-partisan bill, which is on its way to the president’s desk for signing, will save time and money as people work from home.

“There is no work force on the planet that lends itself better to telework, yet the federal government lags behind the private sector and local governments in implementing this common sense program. This legislation will change that and prepare the federal government for the future,” Connolly said in a press release Thursday. “Besides saving money and increasing productivity, this legislation will help the hard-pressed commuters of our region because it has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of cars on our roads.”

The legislation further requires that every federal agency designate senior-level employees to implement telework, makes telework a central element of federal agencies’ plans to cope with a natural or man made emergency and requires annual reports from agencies to ensure their telework programs are meeting expectations.

According to figures from the Office of Personnel Management, roughly 64 percent of all federal workers are eligible to telecommute, but many managers don’t allow it.

Wolf said the legislation will bring the federal government “into the 21st century.”

“Telework programs implemented in the private sector have increased productivity, improved employee morale, and saved operating costs,” Wolf said in a recent press release. “Increasing the number of federal employees that 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.”

Connolly told the House of Representatives Thursday that if 20 percent of Americans teleworked, it would eliminate 67 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and reduce Persian Gulf oil imports by 40 percent.

Only 6 to 10 percent of the federal work force telecommutes on a regular basis compared to 20 percent of Fairfax County employees, the Connolly release stated.

Congressman Robert J. “Rob” Wittman, R-1st, who earlier this year sponsored the Telework Tax Incentive Act, also voted for the bill.

http://www2.insidenova.com/news/2010/nov/19/bipartisan-bill-will-promote-telecommuting-prince--ar-665529/

f t # e

Office Locations