GSA Venture Promotes Quality of Life, Environment, and National Security
Name something that:
- Reduces energy use;
- Cuts down on greenhouse gases;
- Eases traffic;
- Reduces America’s dependence on foreign oil;
- Increases worker productivity;
- Saves taxpayer dollars;
- Helps persuade talented individuals to build long careers in public service;
- And makes the country better prepared in times of emergency.
The answer is telework, or telecommuting, a phenomenon possible thanks to technology that enables nearly any employee with access to a computer, high speed telecommunications links and a phone to work from home or a telework center just as if he or she were sitting in the office.
Given the benefits listed above, you’d probably be surprised to learn that less than 5 percent of the federal workforce teleworks. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) are working to reverse the trend by providing telework opportunities to as many federal and private sector employees as possible.
OPM has the lead in implementing a 2000 law that requires each agency to set a telework policy under which eligible employees may participate so long as they maintain high performance. The law requires that the policy be applied to 25 percent of the federal workforce each year until every eligible employee is offered the chance to telework.
GSA’s role is to provide the necessary guidance, assistance, and oversight, and to acquire space for, establish, and equip telecommuting centers. We also like to lead by example. Currently, 10 percent of GSA’s nationwide workforce teleworks, compared to 4.2 percent for the entire government. Though we comfortably beat the average, I think we can do better, so I recently issued a challenge. I told our managers to bring me a plan that would raise GSA’s total to 20 percent by the end of 2008, to 40 percent by the end of 2009, and to 50 percent by 2010.
Studies have shown that GSA’s 14 telework centers in the DC metropolitan region saved commuters from traveling nearly 2.8 million miles a year, which, in turn, saved almost 115 thousand gallons of fuel, and avoided 2.3 million pounds of emissions. That’s a pretty good return on our investment.
Issuing the GSA Telework Challenge was the easy part. But I have great confidence that our excellent team at GSA will hit the target. I also believe our work will inspire other agencies, to the great benefit of their workers, the taxpayers, and our nation.
Lurita Doan is the Administrator of GSA, founded in 1949 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 205,000 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 eGov Travel solutions and management policies, at best value, allows federal agencies to focus on their core missions.
Lurita Doan is Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration.