Let the telecommuting begin?

With the publication of an interim procurement rule in today's Federal Register, federal policy for the first time explicitly permits telecommuting by contractor employees.

The interim rule implements a provision of the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003, which requires that contractors be allowed to telecommute as they work on contracts from executive agencies.

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council said in the Federal Register notice that "? by not automatically prohibiting telecommuting, the government will be making it easier for small businesses to recruit and maintain employees for work on government contracts."

The interim rule, which goes into effect today, says agencies generally cannot discourage a contractor from allowing its employees to telecommute. It says an agency cannot include in a solicitation a requirement that prohibits telecommuting unless the contracting officer has determined in writing that the requirements of the agency cannot be met if telecommuting is allowed.

The interim rule also says an agency cannot unfavorably evaluate an offer that includes telecommuting, unless the contracting officer determines in writing that the requirements of the agency would be adversely affected if telecommuting is allowed.

The councils will consider public comments in response to the interim rule as they craft a final rule, according to the Federal Register notice.

Comments are due by Dec. 6 at www.regulations.gov. Comments should be identified by FAC 2001-25, FAR case 2003-025.

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