Congress OKs $5 million penalty for telecommuting shortfalls

Congress OKs $5 million penalty for telecommuting shortfalls

If agencies under the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill do not offer every eligible worker the opportunity to telecommute by mid-to-late January, they will lose $5 million under a provision passed as part of the fiscal 2005 Omnibus spending bill earlier this week.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) sponsored the provision that withholds funding from the departments of Commerce, Justice and State as well as the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the federal judiciary [see July GCN Story].

'These departments and agencies'and the federal government in general'need to make a bigger commitment to teleworking,' Wolf said. 'I am hoping that withholding funds until they prove they have an effective program will serve as an incentive.'

Agencies must certify they have offered all eligible employees the opportunity to telecommute, and provide quarterly reports to House and Senate appropriations committees on the status of their telecommuting program, including the number of workers telecommuting, the provision said.

In 2000, Wolf sponsored the mandate that originally required agencies to have telecommuting programs in place by 2005 giving every qualified employee the opportunity to telework. Wolf added the new provision to this year's bill after agencies failed to make enough progress.

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