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New bill would protect telework

Two Maryland lawmakers have introduced a new bill that aims to protect telework for current and future federal employees.

Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) — who both serve large populations of federal workers — introduced legislation on July 26 that would require agencies to support and expand telework policies.

The Telework Metrics and Cost Savings Act is a direct response to new policies at the Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture, where they are significantly cutting back on telework.

“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,” Sarbanes said.

Many are concerned with the administration's pushback on telework partly because of the influx of commuters in the D.C. area.

 

Reader comments

Tue, Aug 7, 2018 Patrick Morris Washington, DC

There are many potential advantages, as well as potential disadvantages with government agency telework policies. I believe the current changes being undertaken by some agencies, to curtail telework, may be more to address their inability to manage the more serious issue of leadership and accountability. Effective leaders and supervisors, when given the authority and when properly exercising that authority can hold those accountable for abusing a telework policy, or any program or policy, and can also effectively realize the benefits of a telework policy. When these same leaders and supervisors have little to no authority, fail to act, and/or attempt to act, but not benefit from the support of their superiors or Human Resource programs and/or policies, as well as Union agreements, we will continue to see policy change and erosion of good and useful policies and continue to see our government flail and demonstrate poor governance. In the end, Federal workers suffer, as well as all U.S. Citizens depending upon their government for vital services. Let’s fix accountability and leadership within our government agencies not continue to change policies…

Fri, Aug 3, 2018 KB

I telework often because there are no offices nearby. When I visit field sites, there is often minimal connectivity for internet, land line, or call phone, or I'm working from a temporary desk, and our field sites belong to customers, not my own organization. My supervisors and coworkers all work hundreds of miles away. I routinely get more done when I am teleworking because my internet and phone connectivity are excellent and I am not regularly interrupted by chatty folks, loud phone-talkers, or the desire to socialize because I'm having a mid-afternoon lull in energy. There are certainly reasons to be in a common workplace for group activities and some functions must be done on-site, but accountability applies to both the employee and the supervisor regardless of the location of the work. The telework policies are clear, and bosses can check on employees all day, every day if/when they are concerned with how employees are spending their time. Underperforming employees or low office productivity (regardless of the place of work) are the responsibility of the supervisory chain of command. Doesn't matter whether the obstacle is a need for closer supervision, lack of training, office politics, or intermittent internet connectivity to essential systems.

Fri, Aug 3, 2018

I am in USDA too, and I am 100% on the side that telework should be reduced, not protected. Our 2 biggest abusers are Ph.D's, and their supervisors do not want to deal with it. It is unfair to the rest of us that come in and are responsive to our customers. I agree that these same people did not put in an honest 8-hour day when in the office either, and that's another problem no one wants to deal with. It's no wonder the public has such a negative impression of govt workers in general. Don't kid yourselves - these abuser's family and neighbors know exactly what's going on. I agree with the comment below that Secretary Perdue surely did not intend for his policy to be poked full of holes with exceptions. Unfortunately, our society is all about making sure everyone is "happy", so everyone has found ways to create exceptions to the rules.

Fri, Aug 3, 2018

I telework and have been more productive than when I was at the work site. At the work site I had to share an office with someone which was extremely difficult. If I were working on-site, I would be less productive. The work of a teleworker should speak for itself.

Thu, Aug 2, 2018 Pb

We have 3 days telework in our office and it is a nightmare. When The employees are in the office they do not want to work as a team, when they are working at home they do housework, watch their kids, do yard work. They turn off their phones so they can not be contacted. There are a few of us that do not telework and we end up doing all the work that can only be done in the office plus our own work. Everyone in the office use to get along and would help each other and work together to get the work done. Now it is all selfishness, fighting, blaming each other, constant back stabbing. We are no longer serving the public. We are a Government that could care less about the public that we are to serve. How can the lawmakers possibly want to have a bill to protect that! Apparently they haven’t really talked to the Government employees that deal with it on a day to day basis. Telework should be reduced not protected!

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