House Votes to Tighten Teleworking Requirements

July 6, 2006 ( - Legislation passed by the House threatens to impose a $5 million appropriations withholding for certain federal agencies if the number of telecommuting workers for those agencies does not rise.

If passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the  spending measure passed Thursday by the House Science-State-Justice-Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee would allow the Commerce, Justice and State departments, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Small Business Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) six months to increase their number of teleworkers, or each suffer a $5 million cut for fiscal 2007.

The measure would require the agencies to come up with detailed strategies to increase the number of workers eligible to telecommute.

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), the chairman of the House Science-State-Justice-Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee, has put pressure on the these agencies to increase their efforts to allow workers to work away from the office, claiming Internet and technology advancements had aided this capability. He claims this will better prepare them to operate in case of a disaster.

According to, the Commerce, Justice and State departments, the SEC and the Small Business Administration fulfilled telework reporting requirements for fiscal 2005. Under the fiscal 2006 spending law, which covers the year that ends September 30, those five agencies must show an increase in telecommuters from fiscal 2005 or face penalties of $5 million.

NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), now under Wolf’s subcommittee, first received mandates requiring them to report the number of authorized telecommuters as part of the fiscal 2006 provisions, reported, but the new bill would for the first time require NASA and NSF to show an increase in telecommuters instead of only reporting participation levels.

A recent study released in late June by the General Services Administration found that most federal government agencies do not provide sufficient IT resources to promote or sufficiently reap the benefits of telework employees (See  Study: Government Teleworkers not Provided Sufficient IT Support ).