New Defense Department Policy Pushes Telework

The Department of Defense announced Oct. 26 a new telework policy and guide, which officials said are meant to reflect the department's commitment to increase the number of employees who work outside official department offices.

Also known as telecommuting, telework allows employees to work from an approved alternative work site, including a home office or telecenter.

Public Law No. 106-346 requires each federal agency to establish a policy under which eligible employees may telework as much as possible without diminished performance. The law required that 25 percent of the eligible federal work force be allowed to telework in fiscal 2001.

An additional 25 percent of the eligible work force must be allowed to telework each successive year, so that every eligible employee has an opportunity to telework by the end of fiscal 2004.

The Defense Department's telework policy and guide are available at www.telework.gov.

The Defense policy promotes regular telework at least one day every two weeks for eligible civilians, and it provides for telework on an occasional, one-time or irregular basis.

Before he start of regular teleworking, employees and their supervisors must sign an agreement that addresses schedules, security and equipment. It also records the anticipated reduction in commuting miles for the employee.

In issuing the new policy, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, encouraged department managers to actively promote teleworking within their organizations, to support teleworking proposals for their employees and to make every effort to overcome barriers to teleworking.

The policy also recognizes telework as a tool to ease traffic congestion in the Washington metropolitan area.

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