GSA Lauds GAO Decision on Telework, Broadband Services Policy
January 18, 2007
Contact: Jen Millikin (202) 501-1231
Washington, DC – In response to the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruling on the ability of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to use its appropriations to reimburse teleworkers for at-home Internet access, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is pleased its governmentwide telework policy has been upheld.
“Telework is a critical part of managing the 21st century workplace, both in the private sector and within the federal government, and GSA recognizes the importance of alternative workplace arrangements and its benefits to employees, productivity and the environment,” said Acting Associate Administrator of Governmentwide Policy Kevin Messner. “We are pleased that our governmentwide policy allowing payment for at-home Internet access for teleworkers was upheld in an independent assessment by GAO.”
The GAO ruling (B-308044, January 10, 2007) was in response to a PTO inquiry and supported its findings that as with telephone service, Internet access is necessary for PTO employees, regardless of worksite. This ruling upholds GSA policy guidance in its Federal Management Regulation Bulletin (FMR Bulletin 2006–B3) issued March 2006. GSA guidance stated:
- In accordance with Public Law 104–52, section 620; 31 U.S.C. § 1348 note, agencies may use appropriated funds to install telephone lines and necessary equipment, and to pay monthly charges, in any private residence of an employee who has been authorized to work at home in accordance with guidelines issued by the Office of Personnel Management.
- This authority includes facsimile machines, internet services, broadband access, e-mail services, voice over IP equipment and services, desktop videoconference equipment and services, and, in general, any other telecommunications equipment and services the agency deems needed by individuals working in home-based AWA.
GSA expects to issue detailed policy guidance on telework technology issues, including information technology security later this year.
GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) is the lead organization for Federal alternative workplace arrangements (AWA) and is heavily engaged in efforts to promote and support AWA utilization to achieve benefits such as improved job performance, facility management, quality of work life, emergency response, and environmental sustainability. OGP also partners with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as lead organizations for Federal telework.
In addition to working with OPM to expand and improve Federal teleworking, GSA is working on telework policy and guidance in areas such as alternative office and space savings, COOP and pandemic planning, the use of telework centers as an alternative to working at home, and the revision of laws to facilitate telework.
Founded in 1949, GSA serves as a centralized procurement and property management agency for the federal government. GSA manages more than one-fourth of the government’s total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in federal assets, including 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings and 170,000 vehicles. GSA helps preserve our past and define our future, as a steward of more than 420 historic properties, and as manager of USA.gov, the official portal to federal government information and services. GSA’s mission to provide superior workplaces, expert technology solutions, acquisition services, purchasing and e-travel solutions and management policies, at best value, allows federal agencies to focus on their core missions.