Could Congress work from home?

Rep. Steve Pearce

Rep. Steve Pearce would like to see members of Congress working from their home districts more, Washington less.

Telecommuting is an increasingly popular option for federal workers looking to avoid marathon commutes and inclement weather. Now a congressman is looking to add members of the House and Senate to the list of government employees eligible to do their jobs from home.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) introduced a resolution on March 21 that would direct the House Administration Committee to "identify the best practices for conducting the business of the House of Representatives in a virtual setting." It's the second time Pearce has introduced such a measure.

Pearce doesn't envision members of Congress logging in from their Capitol Hill digs to avoid a slushy walk to the office. Instead, Pearce thinks elected representatives should spend more time in their home districts, and that staffers should do the same. His measure notes that "many Congressional staffers do not spend time in the district for which they were hired to work, and are less in touch with the needs of constituents." He wants Congress to look into the possibility of holding hearings, conducting debates, and voting using secure electronic communications.

In a statement provided to The Hill, Pearce said that, "Keeping legislators closer to the people we represent would pull back Washington's curtain and allow constituents to see and feel, first-hand, their government at work. Corporations and government agencies use remote work technology. It's time Congress does the same."

Earlier this month, more than 120,000 federal workers logged into their jobs for the third annual Telework Week, sponsored by the Mobile Work Exchange.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 27, 2013

So Congress wants the "same" benefits we (Federal Workers) have???? Great! Give them GS pay, our pay raises, our furloughs, our insurance plans and our retirement plans! All for it!

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 Veronica Culver

Virtualizing government will help them scale and be more efficient, just as it does in the private sector. You really can be in more than one place at a time with the right technologies in place. I'm glad to see the government moving towards adopting technologies and processes that will help them be more effective.

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 Cowboy Joe

Paraphrasin' the late Henny Youngman ... "Could Congress work, ... please?"

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 earth

Could Congress work form home? Lets hope so, they don’t seem to be able to work at capitol hill. But Seriously, it is hard enough to get a committee to come to a consensus when everyone is in the same room. How hard will it be to get reasonable solutions out of congress with everyone on a telephone? (I put the probability of a reasonable solution coming out of congress now at around 0.2. Do we need it to drop to 0.01? If you think I am cynical, ask at least 20 random people their opinion on any solution coming out of congress and see if 90% of them will agree the solution is reasonable. )

It might get some research and development done on telepresence, but the security involved in ensuring 400+ “home offices” haven’t been taped, lines are secure, ect. seems daunting. With everyone in the same room, the Chinese have a somewhat more difficult problem and security has a significantly less work. So committees, particularly those related to “national interests”, are either less secure or much more costly. If they map out each and every workflow and workout the full costs involved so an actual cost cost/benefit analysis can be examined, then a reasonable solution could be found. (Including full security controls.) Want to bet that is part of the bill? Want to bet they have even identified every workflow in Congress? I suspect Capitol Hill is a monument to ad hoc processes.

Tue, Mar 26, 2013

Congress can't seem to do their job "in the office" how will they be able to do it via teleworking? If this happens, a budget will never get passed as well as other business that affects this whole nation! Oh, I forgot, it's all about them and not the people.

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