New group to promote telework

New group to promote telework

Congressional pressure has done little to spur agency managers to boost the number of employees who telework, according to a new study by CDW Government Inc.

The Vernon Hills, Ill., company followed up a telework study in January by surveying 287 federal workers. It found that only 1 percent more employees have begun to telework at least one day a week.

CDW-G wanted to evaluate the effect of a provision in the fiscal 2005 Commerce, Justice and State departments' appropriations bill to fine agencies $5 million for not complying with a federal mandate to allow 100 percent of all eligible employees to telework. The survey took place three months after passage of the bill.

The company released the survey just as federal and industry officials announced Telework Exchange, a new program to promote the benefits of teleworking. The exchange received endorsements from the Office of Management and Budget; Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee; and several subcommittees. Industry sponsors include CDW-G, Citrix Systems Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Intel Corp. and Juniper Networks Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. The group's advisory board includes OMB, the Office of Personnel Management, Capitol Hill staff and industry executives.

"Telework provides a lot of benefits beyond the cost and environmental savings," said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for IT and e-government, speaking today at the FOSE 2005 trade show in Washington. "It helps with recruitment and retention, continuity of operations and emergency preparedness activities."

The exchange Web site offers tools to show federal employees the benefits of teleworking. For instance, there is a calculator into which a worker can enter car type, total commuting miles, pay scale and number of commuting days per week. The calculator will estimate how much telecommuting would save each year, how much pollution the car produces annually and the percentage of income spent on commuting.

The Web site also will have a forum for best practices, telework news and a resource center for educational sessions.

The General Services Administration and OPM set up a similar site, at www.telework.gov, but the new group's officials said this will be different.

"The progress we've seen on teleworking has been mixed at best, and the exchange will move telework into the fast lane," said Steve W.T. O'Keeffe of O'Keeffe and Co. of Alexandria, Va., which is providing administrative and management support to the exchange.

CDW-G's study found more feds now believe telecommuting would increase their productivity and are more aware of their right to telework.

"The Telework Exchange harnesses the power of industry to get this initiative into gear," Davis said in a statement.

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