Rep. Wolf extends telecommuting penalty for another year

NASA and the National Science Foundation could join the departments of Commerce, Justice and State as agencies that could lose funding if they don't meet a federal telecommuting mandate.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) included a provision in the Science, State, Justice and Commerce appropriations bill that would withhold $5 million from each agency that fails to meet the law requiring that every eligible federal worker be given the opportunity to telecommute.

The Virginia Republican, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies, added similar language to last year's appropriations bill, which became law.

NASA and NSF now are under fire after Congress reorganized the appropriations subcommittees.

Commerce, Justice and State, as well as the Small Business Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission, certified this year that they met the 2000 law, which Wolf also sponsored. Wolf has asked the Government Accountability Office to review the agencies' reports.

'The federal government is slowly making progress when it comes to teleworking, but it still has a long way to go,' Wolf said. 'I don't like being so heavy-handed and threatening to withhold funding, but if that is what it is going to take to get more people teleworking, then that is what I will continue to do.'

The provision requires the agencies named in the bill to certify that 'telecommuting opportunities have increased over the fiscal year 2005 levels.'

The House Appropriations Committee last week passed the bill, and the full House must now vote on it.

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