House Approves Federal Telework Bill

November 19, 2010 ( - The House has sent President Obama a bill to boost telework at federal agencies.

Members voted 254-152 to pass the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act (H.R. 1722), which requires agencies to determine which employees are eligible to work outside the office, to establish policies allowing them to do so, and to inform them of the option, according to The measure also requires agencies to designate an official to oversee their telework program and to incorporate the alternative work arrangement in continuity of operations planning for natural disasters and other emergencies.   

During debate on the House floor, the bill’s sponsors touted it as a common-sense measure that will save money down the road by reducing agencies’ overhead costs, cutting energy consumption, and improving productivity. Supporters also emphasized telework is instrumental in keeping government running during emergencies and natural disasters such as the snowstorms that crippled Washington last winter, the news report said.  

However, some Republicans said the bill’s potential price tag is too high, given the current economic climate and Congress’ mandate to decrease spending and cut government. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that implementing the bill will cost about $30 million over five years.   

Republicans also expressed anger that the Senate had stripped out some of the oversight provisions built into the version of the bill the House passed in July. The final bill no longer requires agencies to certify that their telework programs will save money, though it does ask the Government Accountability Office and Office of Personnel Management to evaluate telework progress periodically.