New group promotes teleworking

Representative from the federal government and the information technology industry yesterday unveiled a Web site to educate federal workers about the benefits of telecommuting and to calculate cost savings.

The public-private partnership, called the Telework Exchange, announced its online site at the beginning of the three-day FOSE technology trade show in Washington. Officials from the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget along with founding industry members Intel Corp., CDW Government Inc., Citrix Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc. created the initiative to speed up the federal workforce's adoption of telework requirements.

The Web site provides information on the program and allows federal employees to calculate the personal cost of commuting as a percentage of their after-tax income. It also allows them to add up the number of tons of pollutants that their vehicles emit as they commute, as well as calculates daily savings for those who telecommute. It also tracks federal agencies' progress with complying with the initiative.

Federal workers can register on the site and log the number of roundtrip miles they commute to work or avoid commuting by teleworking, the number of days worked, the type of car they drive and their agency affiliation. The calculators automatically compute the potential cost savings and environmental benefits from teleworking.

In May, the Web site will use registration information to start another calculator that will add up actual federal telework savings. This dividend calculator will provide information to track the relative performance of federal agencies in meeting the requirements for federal telework operating models.

The Telework Exchange also will set up an advisory board focused on establishing telework as a mainstream federal work practice. It will include representatives from the House Science-Justice-Commerce subcommittee, the House Government Reform Committee, OPM, OMB and industry.

The Telework Exchange is privately funded by industry and managed by public relations firm O'Keeffe & Company Inc.

A new report issued yesterday by CDW-G found that federal agencies are still not complying with the telework mandate. The Herndon, Va., IT company published its initial report in January. See WT story. That report found that federal agencies were not complying with the telework law because they were unaware of the program's implementation date or because they did not have the standard telework technology in place.

Agencies have until the end of fiscal year 2005 to allow as many employees as practical to work from home or at another off-site location.

Lawmakers created the federal telework law in October 2000 to reduce office overcrowding and real estate costs, shrink absenteeism, cut gasoline consumption and traffic in the Washington area and provide jobs to the disabled.

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