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Public Statements

Telework Improvements Act of 2008

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


TELEWORK IMPROVEMENTS ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 03, 2008)

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Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

Mr. Speaker, I introduced H.R. 4106 on November 7, 2007, to improve the efficiency of the Federal workforce by allowing more employees to telework.

Telework has a number of benefits for both agencies and employees. A happy workforce is a productive workforce, and giving employees the opportunity to telework can help boost productivity by cutting down on commuting time, reducing absenteeism, and allowing for greater organizational flexibility.

Improving telework can also help reduce pollution, traffic congestion, and the significant financial burdens that Federal employees face from high gas prices.

Unfortunately, telework is not being used to the fullest extent, and according to a report on telework released by the Office of Personnel Management in December 2007, only 6 percent of Federal employees participated in telework programs in 2006.

H.R. 4106 will improve telework in many key ways, while also allowing the government to maintain security of government information and to uphold performance standards. The bill defines telework and requires the Government Accountability Office to evaluate agency telework programs.

The bill requires the head of each agency to establish a telework policy authorizing employees to telework. The bill sets a consistent standard by providing that an agency will only be considered to be in compliance with the bill's requirements if employees who are authorized the telework are allowed to do so at least 20 percent of the hours worked in every two workweeks.

Under H.R. 4106, each agency is required to either appoint a telework managing officer or designate their chief human capital officer or a career employee to carry out the responsibilities of a telework managing officer who will serve as the agency's primary point of contact on telework.

The bill also improves the ability of the government to respond to emergencies by requiring larger agencies to incorporate telework into their continuity of operations plans.

This bipartisan bill was amended and approved by the Oversight Committee by a voice vote on March 13, 2008. A number of changes were made during the committee's consideration of the bill to address suggestions raised by the ranking minority member of the committee, Representative Tom Davis, such as requiring that essential personnel be equipped to telework during a catastrophe.

We are considering the bill today with an amendment that makes further changes to the bill based on feedback from the Office of Personnel Management. For example, the amendment clarifies the definition of continuity of operations to cover a situation such as the 2006 flooding of the Internal Revenue Service headquarters building. The amendment also requires GSA and OPM to jointly find and operate a central telework Web site.

This bill will allow more Federal employees to telework but at the same time ensures that agencies have the necessary flexibility, guidance, and oversight.

And so, Mr. Speaker, I urge swift passage of H.R. 4106.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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