Some telecommuting for government workers could become law

A lot of IT people associate the name "Sarbanes" with working harder. After all, it was Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) who co-sponsored the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that changed the way corporations handle data. Mr. Sarbanes is back but this time he's offering an amendment to an energy-efficiency bill that would require all federal agencies to establish a telework policy. According to the Washington Post, the measure would ensure that employees may telecommute "to the maximum extent possible without diminishing employee performance or agency operations."

Sarbanes, who was joined in this amendment by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), says it will promote "a new carbon-neutral federal government."

From the story in the Washington Post:

"A government report this summer counted 119,248 federal employees as regular telecommuters -- about 6.6 percent of the federal workforce. Proponents of telecommuting contend that more federal employees could work from home if agencies were willing to adjust their office and staffing rules and modify some business practices."

Sarbanes says the amendment would provide for the training and monitoring of telecommuters and that each agency would be required to name a full-time, senior employee as the "telework managing officer."

Since this is a government-proposed action that will actually be put into action by the government, we can probably expect to see it happen right around the time Brad and Angelina's kids join the AARP.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.


Telecommuting is great but it doesn't always work. If you telecommute you can't have kids at home - it just doesn't work, period, unless someone else is there for the kids. We had another employee who felt he was more productive at home, and therefor, didn't need to work as many hours. You really have to have self-motivated employees with a high moral compass for telecommuting to work.

Jalapeno Bob
Jalapeno Bob

One of the modern problems of centralized government, whether it is the Federal government centralized in the DC area or the state governments centralized around the state capital, is long commutes. This severely detracts from the employee's qualitiy of life and from their pocketbook. The size of the paycheck has never traditionally been an attraction to work for the government at the rank-and-file level. I would expect the government employee labor unions to quickly get behind this proposal and push it forward. (If they don't, then they are no longer relevent to the employees they pretend to represent.) I would expect this to expand both quickly and quietly - and, of course, the GAO will complain about the lack of accountability because the rule making process will trail behind the implementation.


Heck, I wish my company would offer that option. I would like to work from home time to time and not have to be in the office @ 7:30am. And I would choose when I go to the office. I think that is a great idea! As long as the company is willing to pay for the resources that would require me to work from home. I am all for it if it saves me $40 a week in gas!

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