In the face of recent administration efforts to cut back on federal employee telework, Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and John Sarbanes, D-Md., introduced legislation July 26 that would prevent agencies from instituting policies that limit telework participation.
The Telework Metrics and Cost Savings Act requires agencies to keep better metrics of telework participation, encourages them to set goals for increasing that participation and prevents any agency plans to reduce telework participation without notifying Congress and the Office of Personnel Management of their justifications for doing so.
The bill would also require OPM to set a plan for keeping governmentwide telework participation above a floor of 22 percent.
“Instead of instituting mindless, sweeping bans on telework participation, agencies should be expanding teleworking options. Telework is supposed to be a tool for promoting government efficiency, performance and emergency preparedness,” Connolly said.
“We are making great progress with widespread adoption of telework in the federal government. We cannot go in reverse. Telework is a valuable tool for not only government efficiency, but also recruitment and retention of a talented federal workforce.”
Agencies such as the Departments of Education and Agriculture have introduced policies under the Trump administration that limit the number of days employees are allowed to telework and take some employees who were previously on 100 percent telework status off that designation.
OPM’s first Federal Work-Life Survey, released in March 2018, revealed that feds who take advantage of telework opportunities are more satisfied with their jobs and ultimately perform better than they would otherwise.
“Federal government telework programs not only improve productivity, but also save taxpayer money by increasing efficiency, strengthening employee retention and reducing costs for federal office space, as numerous studies have demonstrated,” said Sarbanes, who was also an author of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.
“We must push back against the Trump administration’s repeated attacks on federal telework programs, which make our government work better for the American people.”
The bill was referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee for review.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.