Saturday, May 02, 2009

Center Wants Telecommuting For Climate Change Mitigation

Management is reluctant to approve at-home working arrangements because they cannot see workers, which really means they do not trust staffers who are not in their cubicles. At least at the federal level, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Congress want to change that mind-set. OPM has announced a plan to boost telecommuting by federal employees, which would:

1) Convene an advisory group of telework program managers to develop government-wide standards for telecommuting.
2) Direct agencies to submit telework policies for review against standards crafted by the advisory panel.
3) Encourage each agency to establish a telework managing officer, who would ensure that telework policies are applied fairly and supported by agency managers.
4) Encourage agencies to establish an effective and transparent appeals process for employees whose requests for telework or other flexible work arrangements are denied.
5) Assure the provision of high-quality training to remove managerial resistance and to ensure managers and employees are trained and prepared to use telework successfully.

Despite the years of talk, just 7.6 percent of federal workers eligible to telework did so in 2007, according to an OPM report released in December.

Democratic Reps. John Sarbanes (Md.)and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (R-VA) and Danny K. Davis (Ill.), Stephen F. Lynch (Mass.), James P. Moran Jr. (Va.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.) and Republican Frank R. Wolf (Va). Sens. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) have introduced legislation that would ensure that eligible federal employees would be allowed to telecommute at least 1/5 of the time. The Telework Improvements Act of 2009 (HR 1722) proposes teleworking in executive agencies by developing a telework program that allows employees to telework at least 20 percent of the hours worked in every 2 administrative workweeks. The Telework Enhancement Act of 2009 (S. 707) in the Senate proposes similar measures.

The Center has established a Carbon Dioxide Reduction (CDR) Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by recruiting companies and individuals to participate in a flexible work schedule that will primarily include telecommuting, but could also utilize other practices and technologies. Total emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States and its territories were 5,795.6 million metric tons in 2002, according to the Energy Information Administration . Carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector, at 1,849.7 million metric tons, accounted for 32.3 percent of total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2002. (EIA)(Wash Post, 5/1/09)

A Guide to Telework in the Federal Government

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