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Madam Speaker, H. Res. 1721 provides for consideration of the Senate amendment to H.R. 1722, the Telework Improvements Act of 2010. The rule makes in order a motion offered by the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform or his designee that the House concur in the Senate amendment to H.R. 1722.
The rule provides 1 hour of debate on the motion equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the motion except those arising under clause 10 of rule XXI. The rule provides that the Senate amendment shall be considered as read. Finally, the rule allows the Speaker to entertain motions to suspend the rules through the legislative day of November 19, 2010. The Speaker or her designee shall consult with the minority leader or his designee on the designation of any matter for consideration pursuant to this resolution.
This is the third time this year that the House has debated and considered this bill. Each of the previous two times, a majority of the Members voted for the bill.
I have often heard my colleagues on the other side of the aisle speak eloquently of how much more efficient the private sector is and about the need for government to take more cues from business. Telecommuting could not be a better example of this. There is no reason that the Federal Government should not make full use of the perpetual advances being made in mobile technologies to ensure that our government's workforce functions as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Telework policies are even more important during times of emergency. The Office of Management and Budget, OMB, has estimated that for each day the Federal Government was shut down during the mega-snowstorms that hit the Capital Region last February, we lost $71 million worth of productivity. It is important to point out that OMB also concluded that without employees at some agencies being able to telecommute, the cost of lost productivity would have been easily beyond $100 million.
The Telework Improvements Act will provide a framework to expand the current telecommuting program so that all Federal employees can take advantage of these opportunities.
Telecommuting also helps to reduce traffic congestion. Not only does this save gas and emissions, but it decreases rush-hour traffic for all residents of the D.C. metro area, whether they work for the Federal Government or in the private sector.
In the past, some have argued that telecommuting just allows lazy government employees to sit at home and pretend to work. That's simply not the case. This bill requires agencies to establish a telecommuting policy that authorizes employees to telecommute to the maximum amount possible only to the extent that it doesn't diminish employee performance or agency operations.
The Senate amendments to H.R. 1722 also require agencies to maintain a telework database for various research and reporting requirements, including a confidential hotline and email address to report abuses, and require agencies to submit a summary of abuse reports to the Government Accountability Office, the GAO. These measures will ensure that telecommuting workers are efficient and accountable.
I urge all Members to support the rule and the Senate amendments to H.R. 1722, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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Madam Speaker, I guess, after the last election, I had naively thought that we could come back and get away from the political sniping and focus on governing, but it sounds like that is not the case, and that's unfortunate.
This was a bill that was passed in the House with strong bipartisan support. It certainly was not anything that was political but was something that was needed and necessary. Unfortunately, I think that we are going to continue to hear about politics rather than about governing.
With that, Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Oregon
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Madam Speaker, I would like to take a moment to remind my colleagues about the true purpose of this bill, which is to make sure that the Federal Government is taking the steps necessary to increase its ability to function, even in times of national emergencies, because that is what we are here in Congress to do--to make sure that the government continues to function, especially in times of national emergencies.
The bill requires Federal agencies to implement policies and practices to allow employees to telecommute. It requires them to train their employees about how to do their work remotely so that the Federal employees can continue to do their jobs, even if they can't get to work because of a natural disaster or other emergency.
There has been some discussion about the need to police telecommuting employees, so I want to talk about some of the oversight and accountability measures that this legislation contains.
This bill requires the Office of Personnel Management to provide teleworking assistance and guidance to agencies, to maintain a telework database, and to establish various research and reporting requirements.
The bill sets up a confidential hotline and email address to report abuses and requires the OPM to report to the Government Accountability Office about any abuse reports it receives.
Finally, the Senate amendment to H.R. 1722 also requires OPM to consult with the National Archives about how to manage and preserve all records from telework, including Presidential and Vice Presidential records, something that was raised by the Republicans in their motion to recommit back in July.
So, you see that there are oversight measures built into these telework policies. This bill doesn't just say to agencies, ``Send your employees home.'' No. It directs the Federal agencies to set up policies and trainings so that their employees know how to work just as efficiently outside the office as they can at their desks in times of emergency, and those employees know that there is oversight by the agency of the work that is being done.
Those protections are included in this bill, just as they are in the telework policies used by companies in the private sector. That is why this bill makes common sense, because the Federal Government should be adopting policies like this that are commonly used in the private sector to make sure that our government functions efficiently and effectively, even during emergencies that prevent employees from coming into the office.
I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
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