Telework Hearing and Proposed Legislation


11/13/07: Last week, the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce held a hearing on telework in the federal sector. NTEU National President Colleen Kelley submitted testimony to the Subcommittee (Download It Here). In addition, NTEU member John Wilke, a teleworking employee of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, testified via videoconference from his suburban Chicago, Illinois, home-office.

Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) moved quickly after the hearing and on November 9, 2007, introduced legislation on telework that largely follows the recommendation President Kelley made in her testimony. This legislation, HR 4106, the Telework Improvements Act of 2007, is being cosponsored by Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Tom Davis (R-VA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The bipartisan bill seeks to ensure that all eligible employees will have the opportunity to telework. It defines teleworking employees as those who telework at least 20% of the time. The bill would require agencies to provide training on telework to both managers and employees and have each agency appoint a full-time Telework Managing Officer. Further, the Government Accountability Office would annually rate each agency to measure their compliance with the telework requirement. NTEU is continuing to work with the Federal Workforce Subcommittee as well as the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government and the Federal Workforce on this issue. The Senate Subcommittee may be marking up their legislation (S. 1000) later this year.

Among the witnesses at the House Subcommittee hearing last week was a management representative from the Department of Justice (DOJ). NTEU has been in some difficult negotiations with DOJ's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (Bureau) over telework. One of our goals with this Bureau is to allow a group of Legal Instrument Examiners whose post of duty is being moved from Washington, D.C., to West Virginia the opportunity to telework. Without telework, these employees have the difficult choice of relocating their residence, resigning, or enduring a three-hour commute. Chairman Davis asked DOJ to explain why these employees could not telework. DOJ’s inability to offer any explanation gave further support to NTEU’s position.