DOT pushes D.C. telework

The Transportation Department set an ambitious teleworking goal last week

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. This replaces the current 3 percent goal.

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

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

Meanwhile, the fiscal 2001 DOT appropriations bill signed last week

by President Clinton requires telecommuting programs in federal agencies.

Over the next four years, agencies must permit all eligible federal employees

to telework.

Albert Eisenberg, deputy assistant 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 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, he said.

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, a Fairfax County, Va., supervisor and chairman of

the COG.

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