Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and George V. Voinovich (R-OH) introduced the Telework Enhancement Act of 2009 (S. 707), a bill to allow greater workplace flexibility for federal workers and agencies.

“Expanding telework options helps the Federal Government attract and retain talented employees,” Senator Akaka said.  “With a large portion of the Federal workforce eligible for retirement in the coming years, it is essential for agencies to develop management tools to enhance recruitment and retention.  This bill would provide Federal agencies with an important tool to remain competitive in the modern workplace.”

“To compete as an employer-of-choice in the today’s fast-paced knowledge economy and improve our competitiveness, we need to create an environment that supports those with the desire and commitment to serve,” Senator Voinovich said. “Just as other aspects of their lives have been transformed by technology, we need to acknowledge that this next generation will have different expectations of what it means to go to work. Our legislation will help executive agencies better integrate telework into their human capital planning, establishing a level playing field for employees who voluntarily elect to telework, and improving program accountability.”

‘Telework’ is a general term for flexible work arrangements which allow employees to perform their official duties from home or a remote location.  As technologies have advanced, opportunities for employees to securely and efficiently perform their official duties from a remote location have expanded.  Telework has emerged as an important part of federal agencies’ continuity of operations plans (COOPs) for events like natural disasters and national emergencies.  Telework also is part of the Government’s efforts to develop modern approaches to effective human capital management. Other benefits of telework include reduced vehicle emissions from commuting, higher employee morale, and fostering a culture of trust and communication. 

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2009, formally introduced in the Senate yesterday, would expand telework benefits across the federal workforce by providing for increased access to flexible work arrangements.  Among other provisions, the bill would require:

  • -agency heads to establish a telework policy making federal employees eligible to telework unless the employing agency expressly determines otherwise;
  • -the designation of a Telework Managing Officer (TMO) within each agency to oversee telework policies and act as a resource for employees and managers; and
  • -the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to work with each agency to provide guidance on telework policies and goals, and summarize Government-wide telework data in an annual report to Congress.

Senators Akaka and Voinovich are the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.  They held a hearing on telework on June 12, 2007. 

Representative John Sarbanes (3rd-VA) and six co-sponsors introduced a similar telework bill, H.R. 1722, in the House of Representatives yesterday.  By increasing telework opportunities for federal workers, both the Senate and House bills seek to ensure that the Federal Government continues to be an employer of choice in the 21st Century.

Senator Akaka’s Congressional Record statement introducing the bill is available by clicking here.