Government raises bar on telework

The Transportation Department set an ambitious teleworking goal on Tuesday

for agencies in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater asked cabinet secretaries and

agency heads to have 20 percent of their eligible employees in the area

teleworking by 2005.

If realized, the goal will mean that about 70,000 federal workers will

be working from home or a telework center on any given day.

Al Eisenberg, deputy secretary for transportation policy at DOT, said

the department will use its position as the principal owner of the telework

issue to promote the practice. "We have the power of the bully pulpit,"

he said.

Teleworking has not taken off in the federal government as it has in

the private sector, primarily because it represents a dramatic culture change.

But it is necessary if government is to compete for skilled workers, according

to David Bibb, associate administrator for real property policy at the General

Services Administration.

"It's not just nice to have," Bibb said. "The federal government has

downsized; it's aged. We have no chance to compete for the best and brightest"

if agencies don't offer teleworking.

Slater's letter supports the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

(COG) campaign to have 20 percent of all eligible employees in the Washington,

D.C., area telecommuting by 2005.

"There's no other region in the country that has set goals like that,"

said Gerald Connolly, Fairfax County, Va., supervisor and chairman of the

COG. The effort can be easily duplicated in other regions, he said.

The announcements were made at the first annual Washington Area Conference

on Telework and Telework America Day in Fairfax, Va.

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