Telework bill in the works

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) plans to introduce legislation this month that would make it easier for federal contractors to allow more employees to telework.

Davis is planning to include language in the Services Acquisition Reform Act that would prohibit government contracting officers from arbitrarily requiring contractors to be on-site, according to Davis spokesman David Marin.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, said federal contracting officers are reluctant to allow contractors to telework because there is no specific initiative to encourage the practice.

"In the absence of specific guidance, contracting officers do not wish to provide their own interpretation of what is allowable, which may place them in an awkward position," said Miller, testifying Sept. 6 before the House Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee.

"A statement in support of telecommuting for federal employees and for contractors...would be an important first step in overcoming barriers for contractors," Miller said.

At the hearing, Davis said that incentives will help agencies and contractors use teleworking more often. For instance, a provision in last year's Transportation appropriation bill directs agencies to allow all eligible employees to telework at least one day a week by 2004.

Barriers to teleworking, such as manager resistance and lack of education about the practice, need to be knocked down, Davis said. "But the federal workplace culture will not change overnight; it will be a long and gradual process."

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