The House Oversight and Reform Committee on June 15 approved legislation that would modernize Federal telework programs and promote additional data collection about the benefits of telework.  The bill now heads to the full House for consideration.

The Telework Metrics and Cost Savings Act – introduced earlier this month by Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and John Sarbanes, D-Md. – would update an existing Federal telework law authored by the congressmen in 2010 to adapt to current workforce dynamics, and build on the demonstrated success and widespread use of these programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The] legislation provides a much overdue modernization of our Federal telework law … to better reflect our current situation and leverage the lessons learned from the Federal government’s widespread use of telework during the coronavirus pandemic,” Rep. Sarbanes said during a House Oversight markup session.

“This experience showed us not only how effective telework can be as a cost-saving and environmentally friendly practice, but also how critical its use can be as a recruitment tool … to help attract and retain top talent in the Federal service,” he added.

The bill would require agencies to incorporate telework more fully into their workforce goals, promote the continued flexibility of telework programs, and enhance data collection on the cost savings and other benefits telework provides.

Specifically, the bill would give the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) authority to develop standards for the collection and use of Federal agency data to expand telework, develop supervisor and manager training on telework, and publish telework management guidance to agencies. In addition, Federal agencies would be required to report to OPM annually on goals and priorities to expand telework access, track cost savings, train supervisors on how to manage teleworking employees, and review and update existing telework guidance.

“What [Federal] agencies are asking is give us the tools, all the different tools, that can allow us to fulfill the mission of the agency we work for … so that we can fulfill that mission at the highest possible level. Among those tools is telework. So, we ought to do everything we can to provide that in a way that makes sense,” Rep. Sarbanes said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.