GSA, OPM try new teleworker lure

GSA, OPM try new teleworker lure

Federal employees who have never before teleworked can take advantage of a one-month free trial at one of the 16 Washington Metropolitan Telework Centers.

The offer, which started earlier this month and expires Sept. 30, is not open to current or previous teleworkers.

Feds just need to fill out a form and send it to one of seven telework centers in Maryland, one of eight in Virginia or the one in West Virginia.

This is the third attempt by the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management to attract more federal teleworkers. In fiscal 2002 and again in 2004, OPM and GSA offered 60-day free telework trials. But the no-cost tryout did not fare well: Just 130 federal employees took advantage in 2002 and 35 last year.

Agencies usually pay about $25 per employee per day to use a telecenter.

Currently, 653 feds use the centers, but there is room for 484 more, according to the Washington Metropolitan Telework Center's Web site.

Agencies have made limited progress in meeting the federally mandated goal of offering every employee eligible to telework the opportunity. The latest OPM and GSA telework survey found more than 102,000 of the more than 751,000 eligible employees were working from home or from telecommuting centers in 2003. This is an increase of 12,000 employees since 2002 and a 93 percent increase since 2001.

GSA and OPM finished collecting data for the 2004 telework report Jan. 31, and a new report should be released by the end of April, GSA officials said.

Lawmakers are pressuring agencies to meet the federal goal. Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-Va.) provision withholding $5 million from the budgets of Commerce, Justice and State if these agencies do not meet the mandate was a part of the 2005 Omnibus spending bill [see GCN story].

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