GSA offers telework incentive

From now to June 30, the General Services Administration is offering federal employees the chance to try telecommuting for free at one of 16 Telework centers the agency sponsors in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Aimed at employees who are approved for telecommuting, the Telework program waives the user's fees at the centers for 60 days for employees who are telecommuting for the first time, said Paul Chistolini, deputy commissioner for GSA's Public Buildings Service.

Those fees range from $240 to $980 per month. "Some agencies may not have budgeted for that," Chistolini said. "This is an opportunity for managers to let people go at no cost to see the benefits of teleworking."

Stephen Perry, GSA administrator, extended the offer in a March 6 letter to federal agencies.

The Telework centers "may provide agencies with an effective means for distributing their workforces to enhance homeland security and continue government operations during emergency situations," Perry wrote.

Most of the more than 300,000 people in the federal workforce in the Washington, D.C., area are eligible to use the centers, Chistolini said.

While the 16 centers have more than 400 computers available, only 56 percent to 58 percent of them are used on any given day, he said.

Telecommuting has been slow to take off in the federal government and has been hampered by data security concerns, federal and state regulations, and tax laws. In addition, federal managers have been reluctant to allow their employees to work from home or another location outside the office.

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