The "Snowmaggeddon" blizzards that hit Washington in February just about shut down the federal government for more than a week. But those agencies with effective telework programs suffered the least. And by some estimates having folks work from their snow-bound homes saved the taxpayers $30 million every day.
D.C.-area Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., wants the government to use such technologies more. He's sponsored a bill to encourage that, and the House is set to vote on it Wednesday (July 14), according to his office.
UPDATE: The House passed the bill Wednesday, sending it to the Senate.
Rep. John Sarbanes “This bill would be a win for the taxpayer. It would also bolster the federal workforce, improve traffic in the D.C. area, and reduce carbon emissions— all in one fell swoop," Sarbanes said in a statement back in May, when 147 Republican members opposed the bill and it failed to get the two-thirds majority in a procedural vote required to move it forward. All the House Democrats and 24 Republicans voted for the bill, H.R. 1722.
The vote expected on Wednesday will require only a simple majority to send the bill on to the Senate.
The Office of Personnel Management estimated the government lost $71 million worth of productivity for each day it remained closed during the blizzards, reducing that figure from a higher estimate that did not take into account those who worked from home.
The Telework Improvements Act of 2010 would:
?• Instruct the Office of Personnel Management to develop a uniform, government-wide telework policy for federal employees;
?• Strengthen the federal government’s capacity to effectively integrate telework into Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP);
?• Designate one person as a Telework Managing Officer within every agency;
?• Provide telework training and education to both employees and supervisors;
?• Require the Office of Personnel Management to compile government-wide data on telework; and
?• Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate agency compliance and produce an annual report to Congress that is publicly available on the Internet.
For an example of a federal telework program (in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) that's been honored for its effectiveness, click here.
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