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House Vote Today on Telework Could Save $13.7 Billion A Year

OMB estimate of $30 million cost over five years is less than half of what they estimate a single snow day costs in lost productivity.

The Telework Improvements Act (H.R. 1722) is getting a second chance in the House today. Defeated narrowly in May, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) reintroduced the Bill that would beef up federal telework participation. A similar bill (S.707) passed unanimously in the Senate on May 24th.

UPDATE: The bill passed 290-131. The legislation directs the Office of Personnel Management to issue regulations on telework, and requires agencies to come up with policies that permit teleworking for up to 20 percent of the hours worked over two weeks. Agencies must designate a telework managing officer, provide training to employees, and ensure that there are no distinctions between teleworkers and others in performance appraisals.

The last round of House votes missed by only 4% with all of the nay votes coming from the Republican side of the House. Naysayers cited costs, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated to be $30 million over a five year period, as the reason for their opposition to the bill. Research by the Telework Research Network shows the bill would in fact save agency and employee participants almost $11 billion a year.

“The staggering costs of lost productivity from federal workers during last Winter’s snowstorms–estimated by the government at $71 million a day–would pay for the five year cost of the bill in one day,” says Kate Lister, Principal Research at the Telework Research Network.

Based on assumptions from a 2006 study commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration (conducted by Booz Allen), and others our Telework Savings Calculator shows that if those eligible employees who wanted to work from home did so just one day every other week (half the level required in H.R. 1722):

Agencies would:

– Increase productivity by over $2.3 billion each year – equivalent to 26,000 man years of work
– Save $850 million in annual real estate, electricity, and related costs
– Save $2.3 billion in annual absenteeism
– Save $3.1 billion in annual employee turnover
– Improve continuity of operations
– Improve work life balance and better address the needs of families, parents, and senior caregivers.
– Avoid the ‘brain drain’ effect of retiring boomers by allowing them to work flexibly
– Be able to recruit and retain the best people
– Offer fuller employment for disabled workers, rural residents, and military families

Federal Employees would:

– Achieve a better work-life balance
– Save $400-$1,400/year in transportation and work-related expenses
– Collectively save $57 million a year at the pumps
– Suffer fewer illnesses

The Nation would:

– Save almost 3 million barrels and $233 million in imported oil
– Reduce greenhouse gases by 532,000 tons/year – the equivlient of taking 97,000 cars off the road
– Reduce road travel by 1.2 billion miles/year saving $20 million in road maintenance
– Reduce road congestion thereby increasing productivity for non-teleworkers as well
– Save 1,000 people from traffic-related injury or death each year and save $117 million a year in related costs
– Improve emergency responsiveness
– Reduce pollution from road work and new office construction
– Preserve open spaces
– Alleviate the strain on our crumbling transportation infrastructure
– Reduce terrorism targets of opportunity

The savings per telecommuter would total about $5,200/participant/year.

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