Cost estimates cause trouble for telework bill

A Congressional Budget Office estimate that the 2010 Telework Improvements Act would cost agencies $2 million this year and $30 million between 2010 and 2015 contributed to the bill's failure to pass the House, according to a public policy organization.

The CBO report and a general feeling the bill might cost too much held it back from receiving the two-thirds vote it needed to clear the chamber last week, said Katie Corrigan, director of Workplace Flexibility 2010, a public policy initiative at Georgetown Law School. Corrigan's group and other participants in a New America Foundation event Thursday on the future of workplace flexibility have been promoting the cost savings and productivity benefits of telework and other workplace flexibilities, but their efforts have not translated to legislative action.

"There is so much data out there showing how great these benefits can be," Corrigan said. "But talk about a disconnect. We need to talk about the return on investment. A link has to be made in how we show bang for the buck."

Based on information from the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration, CBO estimated implementing the Telework Improvements Act actually would increase administrative costs by $30 million during the next five years. That sum includes the cost of notifying employees of their eligibility to participate in telework programs, preparing regulations, providing guidance and preparing a federal study on the effectiveness of telework, CBO stated.

Kathleen Christensen, founder and director of the Workplace, Work Force and Working Families Program at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said the federal government has been a pioneering force for workplace flexibility. Federal agencies were first to adopt flex time and historically had the most comprehensive and aggressive telecommuting programs.

But now the private sector is catching up and the federal government is falling behind, panelists said during the event. Corrigan said this trend is unfortunate and should be reversed, because the federal government is a great place to conduct workplace flexibility pilot programs, particularly for jobs that don't naturally seem conducive to flexibility.

"We need to pay close attention to Congress' perception," Corrigan said. "Do they consider [flexibility initiatives] frivolous exercises or the important ones they are?"

Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, said proponents of flexibility in the federal workplace must communicate with taxpayers so they understand the benefits for all citizens and agencies, not just for federal employees who already are the subject of private sector envy.

"It is definitely a bit of a messaging problem," Boushey said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.