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New Telework Bill Would Make Government Leaner

Yesterday House Representative Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced a bill that would encourage federal agencies to use telework and teleconferencing to cut down on costly travel expenses. The bill, called the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act, already looks to have bipartisan appeal, with 3 Republicans and 4 Democrats joining Fitzpatrick as co-sponsors.

The bill aims to cut federal travel expenses by 50 percent, or, failing that, by as much as the director of the Office of Management and Budget deems possible. Legislation that leverages existing technology to save federal employee time and government money seems like something even the historically unproductive 113th Congress could pass.

The bill notes that telework doesn’t just cut costs (though that is the main selling point). It can also “enhance communication and problem solving…reduce associated carbon footprints…increase employee productivity, thereby helping shorten project timelines, promote efficiency, improve collaboration among coworkers across the country, and improve work-life balance.”

Telework makes just as much sense for the government as it does for the private sector. We’ll be keeping an eye on this bill’s progress.

[Telecommuting image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Dellisious

    I don’t really understand this bill. Most civil servants telework regularly under the status quo. In my view, this is actually to the detriment of work product, as it is much harder to work collaboratively and talk things through when working telephonically. But what does this have to do with travel? Currently, civil servants will telework to do things like argue court motions and take depositions. How will these needs disappear? And what do they have to do with telework?

    • Andrew Allison

      You are mistaken. I’m married to a civilian employee of DoD (which has a formal “Instruction” to encourage telework), whose agency has a policy of refusing telework requests. The problem is simple: since managers are not eligible, they deny it to their subordinates.

  • ojfl

    I like the bill but I do not like the characterization that this Congress is unproductive. We should not characterize productivity by the amount of bills a Congress passes.

  • Dellisious

    I suppose it differs by agency. In my group, people telework regularly. While it’s easier for them, I think it hurts our mission, as it is much harder to collaborate, think creatively, brainstorm, or talk casually about work when you’re not there. That said, I’m not really sure what this bill does, given that telework practices appear to differ across different groups and agencies.

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