President Obama signed an executive order
Thursday giving federal agencies three months to update their computer policies and purchasing plans to account for an expected surge in federal employees working from home following December's Telework Enhancement Act
. The order is aimed at ensuring employees can successfully telecommute without long work stoppages and without introducing new cyberthreats. The order gives agencies broad authority to design computer policies that match their unique needs but urges the agencies to give priority to governmentwide or agencywide purchases when feasible to keep costs down. The Office of Management and Budget will issue additional guidelines for the updated computer plans by June 7, the order said. The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act requires agencies to determine by May which employees are eligible to work from home and which aren't. The act was aimed at improving productivity, easing continuity of operations during snowstorms or in the event of a terrorist attack and reducing the government's carbon footprint. Implementing the bill is expected
to cost about $30 million over five years, but officials say it could ultimately save that much annually.