House committee approves telework bill

Legislation that would force agencies to focus on their telework programs and expand them as well as establish governmentwide rules for federal telecommuting is on its way to the House Floor after the House Homeland Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved it by voice vote Mar. 13.

The Telework Improvements Act of 2007, introduced last November, would require agencies to allow authorized employees to telework at least 20 percent of the time during a two-week period. It would also require the General Services Administration, in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management, to be responsible for helping implement a telework policy by providing advice, assistance and guidance to agencies.

Every agency would also be required to appoint a telework managing officer and the comptroller general would submit an annual report to Congress rating agencies on their telework practices.

The chairman and ranking members of the committee sponsored amendments, which were approved, to the original House legislation.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), substituted language that would require mission-critical employees at each agency to be equipped to telework. He also amended the measure to add telework to the list of issues that the government’s Chief Human Capital Officers Council deals with in its meetings.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the panel's ranking member, added an amendment that would allow agencies to have their chief human capital officers or an appointed career employee fill the role of telework manager if no telework managing officer is appointed.

In November, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill with similar provisions. That bill will be on the Senate Floor after that committee issues its report on it.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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