Senate bill would create telework management position

Senate proponents of federal teleworking have introduced a bill that would require agencies to establish a key management position for telework.

Under the bipartisan Telework Enhancement Act of 2007, introduced March 28 by Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), agencies would have to designate a telework-managing officer, who would be responsible for implementing agency telework programs and serve as a liaison between employees and managers. The officer also would develop accountability and productivity criteria, and keep employees informed about their telework eligibility and other issues.

The notion of creating a management official to promote and oversee telework at each agency follows recent reports of significant management resistance in the government to teleworking. For example, a survey by the Telework Exchange and Federal Managers Association found that only 35 percent of managers believe their agencies support telework.

Among other provisions, the bill also would reverse current telework eligibility law, which states that employees are ineligible to telework unless deemed otherwise by their agencies. If passed, the legislation would make all federal workers eligible unless shown otherwise by their employer.

In addition, the bill would require telework training for new employees and managers, and ensure that each employee's performance review include a discussion about the feasibility of teleworking.

The sponsors say the bill would improve cost-efficiency in government and enhance federal employees’ family life.

“By encouraging federal agencies to allow their employees to work from home, we will reduce their use of gasoline, save them thousands of dollars in fuel expenses each year and help protect the environment,” Stevens said.

Landrieu said the bill takes a fresh approach to balancing home and career by expanding eligibility. It will let federal workers continue “serving the nation while spending more quality time with their families,” she said.

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