Telework improvements bill falls short in House vote

Two-thirds majority was required for passage of Telework Improvements Act

The House today failed to pass the Telework Improvements Act that would direct federal agencies to name telework coordinators and to set policies to maximize the use of teleworking.

The House voted under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for approval. The vote was 268-147.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), blamed the failed vote on Republicans. While 24 GOP members voted in favor of the legislation, all 147 votes against it came from Republicans. All Democrats voted in favor.

“I hope more of my Republican colleagues who claim to be concerned about federal deficits will take the time to understand this issue,” Sarbanes said in a statement today. “During this year’s snowstorm, telework saved $30 million every day the government was closed because federal employees could continue their work at home. We need to expand telework opportunities to make our federal workforce more productive and ensure that we can recruit and retain top talent to government.”

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Sarbanes, quoting Office of Personnel Management estimates, said the government loses $100 million in productivity per snow day without telework, or $71 million with telework.

The measure's goal was to improve teleworking in the federal government’s executive branch. Teleworking is defined in the bill as a work flexibility arrangements under which federal employees perform the duties and responsibilities of their positions, or other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the usual location.

Under the bill, each executive agency would name a telework managing officer to be in charge of making employees aware of the telework program. The bill also would authorize federal employees to telework for 20 percent of their schedule.

The bill would instruct the Office of Personnel Management to develop a uniform, government-wide telework policy for federal employees; integrate telework into disaster planning; provide telework training and education to employees and supervisors; collect data on telework and produce an annual report on telework compliance.

Sarbanes said a similar telework bill passed in the previous Congress, and this measure can be brought back for approval by a simple majority vote.

Details were not immediately available on whether, and when, another vote might take place.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Thu, May 13, 2010 Jim Istari Work from Home

Good Day! I currently work at the Dept of Veterans Affairs as a Virtual Employee and have done so for 3+ years. I must take exception with some of the negative comments about telework. I know that I get a lot more done while working from home than I ever did while in the office. There aren't the usual distractions of people "dropping by" to discuss personal events or just BSing the time away. One of the key elements to successfully working from home is to have a dedicated work area or office that is seperated from the living area of the house or appartment.

Fri, May 7, 2010 oracle2world

Until something like this passes, forget about any signicant telework (or remote work period). People enjoy their sewing circles at work too much.

Fri, May 7, 2010

I agree with the last responder. They are running on "fiscal responsibility" (what a joke already!), and yet will block anything that is beneficial for the people (cost savings, government able to run regardless of the circumstances) just to keep the Democrats from getting credit for getting things done. OKAY! Don't cry when President Obama does as much of this stuff as he can by Executive Order. Also, we're keeping of list of all of the things Republicans have blocked since their leadership made the statement that their plan was to "block everything" the President tries to do, including the things that got through inspite of their challenges. See y'all in November--the GOP will pay!!!

Fri, May 7, 2010

Telework does not improve the quality and efficient of nearly everywork place. We live in a physical world and we all need physical services and products. Telework does not provide that. If the Government can work with a large percentage of their employees at home, then they are not producing much and we would be better off if they just eliminated many of those jobs. The idea that telework will save money by cutting down on the requirement to provide a physical work place is pure BS. The Government will still provide that workplace wether it is need or not. That is just the way they have always worked. There is another downside to telework that I have never seen discussed. Supervison is just not about seeing that the workis actually being done but, under good conditions, also works as mentoring to help train people to improve at their jobs and their career.

Fri, May 7, 2010

More and more I like the idea of term limits. I always thought that the politicians were elected to "serve the people". However, it seems they only want to serve themselves.

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