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Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry today announced a comprehensive plan to jumpstart agency telework programs out of a plodding first gear into a cruising fifth gear, giving tens-of-thousands more Federal employees nationwide the opportunity to leave their cars at home, and work from home. Today, only 5 percent of the nation's 1.9 million Federal employees telework.
Berry's plan to substantially increase telework participation consists of five components that, when taken together, form the basis for establishing effective telework programs that can be tailored to each agency's unique culture. While promoting the general efficiency of operations, viable telework programs have long been suggested as an important feature of agency Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plans, as they can be implemented in short order during a national health or weather emergency.
Aside from their value during emergencies, telework programs - which typically allow employees to work from home one or two days each week on a regular basis - improve employee morale and productivity.
"I'm here to put some giddy-yap into telework," said Berry. "I was raised in the D.C. metropolitan area, so I know a little something about the traffic congestion that frustrates commuters and saps them of energy even before they get to the office. With a sensible approach to creating model telework programs, thousands more employees will work from home one or two days each week on a regular basis - and thousands fewer will be on the road. Gone will be the anxieties of commuting for these folks, and they will ‘show up for work' refreshed and ready to go. Taxpayers will benefit; and with less commuting time, employees will have additional quality hours to spend with their families and friends, or to pursue outside interests."
Increased adoption of telework in Federal offices across the country, particularly in major metropolitan areas with large concentrations of employees, would have tremendous economic and social value. These programs would enable the uninterrupted delivery of government services if employees were instructed to work from home due to natural disaster or conditions that threaten human health, including concerns related to the spread of influenza. To facilitate agency business during emergencies, managers have authority to implement new telework agreements to the fullest extent possible.
The components of Berry's plan are drawn from two bills which have been introduced in Congress: H.R. 1722, the "Telework Improvements Act of 2009," introduced by Representative John Sarbanes (MD), and co-sponsored by Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA), Danny Davis (IL), Stephen Lynch (MA), Jim Moran (VA), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD), and Frank Wolf (VA); and, the "Telework Enhancement Act of 2009" (S.707), introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka and co-sponsored by Senator George Voinovich (OH). Berry has expressed his gratitude to those Members for their strong and consistent support of telework in the Federal Government.
Berry's plan would:
In 2008, according to data OPM has collected from agencies:
Data about OPM employees show:
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