Federal Manager's Daily Report

The latest Senate bill follows a House hearing in which Republicans pressed OMB for data on telework rates and their impact on productivity. Image: Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

The focus on agency telework practices is shifting to the Senate, with the introduction of a new bipartisan bill (S-4266) to require federal employees work onsite at least 60 percent of the time—effectively, to telework no more than four days in each two-week pay period.

The bill would “reasonable flexibility for each agency, including allowing waivers for certain types of positions where telework is needed to support agency needs,” according to a summary from sponsors Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. It also would Require agencies to monitor the work of employees engaged in telework to ensure they are actually working; and require agencies to report on their productivity metrics and the potential negative effects of telework on productivity, morale, security vulnerabilities, or waste, fraud, or abuse.

That follows recent introduction in the Senate of a separate bipartisan bill (S-4043), which would require OPM to set new standards under which agencies would have to track and report their telework rates. Also, agencies would have to track and report their space utilization rates under guidance from OMB and report on the impact that telework has on those rates as well as on productivity, customer service, operating costs, and more.

The latest Senate bill follows a House hearing in which Republicans pressed OMB for data on telework rates and their impact on productivity, similar to information it already will be required to produce by the end of next month under a budget measure enacted in March.

Also in March, the House passed HR-6276, to require the GSA and OMB to establish standard methodologies and identify technologies available for measuring occupancy in public buildings and federally-leased space. Agencies then would have to apply technologies to measure occupancy under that policy and within a year report to Congress on utilization by building and lease. A usage rate remaining below 60 percent for more than a year would trigger a process for consolidating and selling off excess space.

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