Tax Office Champions Teleworking, While Pentagon Backs Away

By Joe Davidson
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teleworking may be the greatest thing since the Pony Express.

At least, that's the impression given by proponents of allowing federal employees to work from home or other remote locations.

"It is tremendous," says J. Russell George, the inspector general for tax administration in the Treasury Department.

Yet, less than 8 percent of those eligible to telework did so in 2007 and the total number declined by 14 percent from the preceding year, according to an Office of Personnel Management report.

So what's happening?

For one thing, the Pentagon is a big drag on the numbers. Defense officials decided to reduce teleworking for security reasons, and their numbers dropped by half. And NASA, with all those rocket scientists, previously hadn't counted their teleworkers correctly, so their stats fell when they finally figured out who was working where.

Here are some highlights from the report:

-- Most federal agencies have expanded their telework programs, or at least they have held steady.

-- 60 percent of federal agencies had "fully integrated telework into emergency planning" in 2007, compared with 42 percent in 2006 and 35 percent in 2005.

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