Rep. Davis turning up heat on agency telework programs

Rep. Tom Davis is considering extending to all appropriations bills language that would withhold $5 million from agencies that don't meet federal telework goals.

Davis said, 'This is the type of action required to get the wheelbarrow moving,' as agencies will fall short in offering all their eligible workers the opportunity to telecommute by April 2005, as required by a four-year old law.

Davis' proposal is patterned after language in the Commerce, Justice, State appropriations bill that would withhold funds. Rep. Frank Wolf added the provision during the appropriations committee markup late last month (See GCN coverage).

Drew Crockett, a spokesman for Davis, said the Virginia Republican has not made a final decision on which bills he will add language to, since some agencies are doing better than others.

'Despite your best efforts, we may need additional legislation,' Davis, chairman of the Government Reform Committee, told General Services Administration administrator Stephen Perry and Office of Personnel Management director Kay Coles James at a hearing on telework. 'What Rep. Wolf has proposed, what we may need to add to other bills, is something that we may need to do to get attention.'

Davis said the committee wants to help OPM and GSA hold agencies' 'feet to the fire' to meet the telework goals.

Wolf (R-Va.) said the problem appears to be at the leadership level and not with the workers.

'Word is not getting out,' he said. 'This has been the law for a long time and yet it is not being complied with. Perhaps the hearing will start to get things going.'

Agency leadership, headed by GSA and OPM, seems to hear lawmakers' concerns.

OPM is proposing that the Office of Management and Budget include teleworking compliance as part of the scorecard.

'The time is right for including telework as a specific, measurable goal for agencies in their scorecards,' James said. 'A useful incentive for change will be to incorporate telework participation goals into OPM's evaluation of agency human resources programs.'

OPM also is more aggressively enforcing agency compliance with the law requiring 20 of the largest agencies to set aside a minimum of $50,000 a year to support employee use of telework centers.

Rep. Edward Schrock (R-Va.) also questioned whether Congress or agencies need a governmentwide definition of what positions are considered telework eligible.

James said she would hesitate to implement such a definition because jobs are different from agency to agency.

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