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House Passes Telework Improvement Act Unanimously

in Broadband's Impact by

By William G. Korver, Reporter,

WASHINGTON, June 3 - The House on Tuesday unanimously passed H.R. 4106, a bill designed to promote broadband use in the home by allowing federal employees to work from home at least one day a week.

H.R. 4106, called the "Telework Improvement Act," was introduced by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va. A similar bill, S. 1000, passed a Senate committee last year. It would have extended pro-teleworking policies to the legislative as well as the executive agencies. H.R. 4106 omits legislative agencies.

The purpose of H.R. 4106 is to improve teleworking, which features employees regularly working from home or another worksite that is not the employee's usual place of employment within executive agencies.

The bill's teleworking program for executive agencies would require them to permit employees to telework no less than 20 percent of the hours worked in every two administrative workweeks, or one day per week.

H.R. 4106 does contain several qualifications that would bar an employee from teleworking. If the "employee is needed to respond to an emergency," needs more training, or if certain "goals and objectives of programs administered by the agency" need to be "achieved," the teleworking mandate does not apply.

The high cost of energy may be spurring increased interest in teleworking.

Proponents fear that agencies may be artificially boosting their number of employees who telework, by only allow their employees to telework only once every two or three months.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of H.R. 4106 to be $5 million in 2008, before falling off in subsequent years.

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