Funding threatened if agency teleworking numbers don't improve

The Commerce, Justice and State departments as well as the Small Business Administration and Securities and Exchange Commission could lose $5 million each if they don't improve their telework programs.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) added a provision to the Commerce, Justice and State fiscal 2005 appropriations bill that would withhold funds if the agencies do not offer all eligible workers the opportunity to telecommute. Wolf is the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that wrote the bill.

'This office gets calls from federal employees who say they are denied the opportunity to telecommute because either their supervisors don't approve it or are classified as not eligible,' Wolf spokesman Dan Scandling said. 'There will be some who are not eligible, but there are many who are and agencies have been painfully slow in making progress.'

The full Appropriations Committee yesterday passed the spending bill, which will be reviewed by the entire House after the Fourth of July recess.

The Office of Personnel Management's recent report on teleworking found 14 percent of all eligible employees work away from the office at least one day a week [See GCN Coverage from June 10].

Of the agencies in the bill, only Commerce's program is considered solid'39 percent of all eligible employees are teleworking. Justice, State, SBA and the SEC are at 10 percent or less, OPM said.

Wolf included a provision in the 2000 Transportation Department appropriations bill calling for 100 percent of all eligible teleworkers be given the opportunity to telecommute by 2005.

'Congressman Wolf is disappointed in the overall progress of agencies,' Scandling said. 'He didn't want to go this path, but he felt he had to get people's attention. There are no downsides to telecommuting.'

Scandling said Wolf does not expect any opposition to this provision.

'Telecommuting is a continuity of government issue. Telecommuting is a transportation issue. Telecommuting is an environmental issue. And telecommuting is a quality of life and family values issue,' Wolf said in a statement. 'With the advances in technology today, there is just is no reason to strap yourself into a metal box every morning only to drive to an office where you sit in front of a computer all day.'


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