THE FEDERAL ROLE ENCOURAGING TELECOMMUTING by mag64346

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									   THE EVOLVING FEDERAL ROLE
        IN TELECOMMUTING



                  By



             Edward Weiner
Mobility and Infrastructure Team Leader
         Office of the Secretary
  U.S. Department of Transportation
         ed.weiner@ost.dot.gov


                 And


             Robert Stein
         Senior Policy Analyst
        Office of the Secretary
  U.S. Department of Transportation
       robert.stein@ost.dot.gov




           February 1, 2005
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                   THE EVOLVING FEDERAL ROLE IN TELECOMMUTING

                                               By

                               Edward Weiner and Robert Stein


                                            Abstract



The evolving Federal role in telecommuting occurred in several stages. Early activity consisted of
small scale pilots and experiments conducted separately by individual Federal agencies. A
second stage featured the first government wide Flexiplace pilot, focused on work-at-home
arrangements. A third stage introduced Federal telecommuting centers (telecenters). The
National Telecommuting Initiative government wide initiative contained ambitious goals for
telecommuting by Federal employees. By this time, the Federal government began focusing on
promoting telecommuting as a travel demand management technique. Federal funds and
technical assistance were made available to established State and local telecommuting
programs. Most recently, Federal legislation required all Federal agencies to establish
telecommuting programs.
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                    THE EVOLVING FEDERAL ROLE IN TELECOMMUTING

                                                 By

                                Edward Weiner and Robert Stein



Introduction

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been seeking new ways to provide
transportation service in a cost effective manner consistent with the nation's environmental and
economic goals. This has proven to be quite a challenge because the growth in travel,
particularly in urban areas, has outpaced the nation‟s ability to provide adequate capacity to serve
it. This situation has provided an opportunity for telecommuting to contribute to reducing
congestion and air pollution while meeting the needs of employees and employers.

Telecommuting is currently of particular interest to public agencies struggling to relieve local
highway congestion and meet legislative mandates for improved air quality. For them,
telecommuting is an important Transportation Demand Management (TDM) tool--a strategy that
can reduce congestion by eliminating a trip or shifting it out of the peak travel period. Other
strategies include car, van and bus pools, public transit, traffic information systems, transportation
management operations tools, compressed work weeks, and flexible work schedules.

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, telecommuting has taken on a new, increased
emphasis in light of proposals to create a less targetable, more dispersed workforce. Private
industry and public agencies displaced by the attacks have relied upon telecommuting to restore
needed operations, while others are examining telecommuting as an alternative to traditional
centralized work spaces.

DOT has long been a leader in promoting telecommuting as a travel demand measure to
decrease highway congestion and reduce air pollution. Telecommuting includes a variety of non-
standard employment arrangements allowing employees to work at home or at other nearby
locations. Telecommuting programs can offer benefits to employers and employees by reducing
office space needs, improving productivity, and allowing greater flexibility for individual workers.
By removing vehicles from the highways during peak periods, telecommuting can help
communities reduce congestion levels and accidents, improve air quality, and decrease energy
consumption.

Definitions

Telecommuting, also known as teleworking, means using information technology and
telecommunications to replace work-related travel. Simply put, it means working at home or
closer to home. With telecommuting, employees work at home or perhaps at a local telework
center one or more days per week. Communication is accomplished by phone, fax, modem, and
teleconferencing. Nationwide, more than 23 million workers are going to work simply by picking
up the phone or turning on their computers. (Shirazi, et. al., 2001)

Telecommuting, or telework, or flexiplace, encompasses a wide range of non-traditional work
arrangements that move work to people rather than people to work, is being driven by a number
of factors. Business and government agencies continue to pursue ways to enhance productivity,
reduce costs, and remain competitive in the local, national, and international marketplace.
Employees are concerned about accomplishing work requirements in a timely and quality fashion,
while balancing job and family responsibilities. Finally, issues relating to traffic congestion, air
quality, the environment, and quality of life continue to be concerns throughout the country. At
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the same time, rapid advancements in telecommunications and computer technologies have
greatly enhanced our ability to communicate and work across long distances.

While telecommuting is a relatively new approach to work arrangements, the extent of such
programs, the various techniques used, the benefits and limitations of different approaches, the
keys to successful programs, and other related issues are beginning to become more widely
known and documented. Further, the roles that Federal, state, and local governments are playing
to promote telecommuting are also becoming much more significant.

Early Federal Involvement

The evolution of Federal telecommuting activities occurred in several stages. One of the earliest
government wide policies relating to Federal telecommuting was in 1957 when the Comptroller
General approved payment of salaries, on a case-by-case basis, to Federal employees for work
done at home. (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1992). The earliest effort to generate a Federal
telecommuting program, however, appears to have occurred in the early 60's when Jack Nilles,
commonly considered to be the father of telework, began teleworking from Los Angeles to
Washington, DC while working as a consulting rocket scientist to the US Air Force Space
Program. Inspired by this experience, Nilles coined both the words “telecommuting” and
“teleworking” in 1973. He began promoting the value and importance of the concept and thus
gave birth to the telework movement.

The first person to generate Federal experimentation with telecommuting was Frank Schiff. At the
time, Schiff was Vice President and Chief Economist for the Committee for Economic
Development. In 1979, Schiff published an article in the Washington Post in which he challenged
the Federal Government to look at management practices, union rules, and Federal laws and
regulations in an effort to facilitate working at home as a means of improving productivity, saving
costs, and saving energy (this was at the height of the energy crisis during that period). During
that same time, Schiff coined the term “Flexiplace” to “encompass not only work-at-home but also
such other flexible location arrangements as satellite work centers. Flexiplace would be regarded
as a natural complement to the already existing Federal „Flexitime‟ program. Moreover, in
contrast to such terms as „telecommuting‟, it stressed increased flexibility in the location of work,
whether or not this is based on the use of telecommunications equipment.” (Schiff, 1993)

Schiff‟s efforts led to a study conducted by the US Office of Personnel Management, “Flexiplace:
An Emerging Issue in Federal Employment”:

        The OPM paper first described the basic rationale for Flexiplace. It cited a 1973 legal
        opinion by the Civil Service Commission (now OPM) which stated that there were no laws
        which required Federal employees to perform their work at a particular site. The paper
        then described various existing or planned experiments with Flexiplace in the private
        sector as well as the Federal Government....The paper did not make any formal
        recommendations but was clearly favorable to the Flexiplace concept. Unfortunately, the
        report came out just five days before the 1980 Presidential election and the entire effort
        was apparently discontinued when the new Administration took over. (Schiff, 1993)

Emergency Use of Telecommuting - The Loma Prieta Earthquake

October, 17 1989, brought the Federal Government an early experience with telecommuting as
an emergency response strategy. At 5:04 pm that day, the Loma Prieta earthquake severely
damaged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9 office building in San
Francisco, displacing nearly 800 employees. EPA responded by establishing an auxiliary
command post for 80 employees and work-at-home arrangements for the remaining 700+
workers. By March 1990, 60% of the displaced employees were back in traditional (temporary)
workstations while the other 40% continued in Flexiplace awaiting the opening of a new office
building. EPA conducted several studies of this experience, learned quite a bit about the
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feasibility and utility of Flexiplace as both a general workplace strategy as well as an emergency
response strategy, and continues to use Flexiplace. (Joice, 2000)

EPA conducted a study of the results of the emergency telecommuting program and concluded:

       One long-term effect from the earthquake experience about which there was a great deal
        of agreement was that there should be some kind of work-at-home policy,
       Most of the interviewed managers and staff favored continuation of the work-at-home
        program,
       While noting that this unplanned and suddenly-implemented program was not an
        indication of the performance of a normally implemented program, the study pointed out
        problems such as getting supplies and services, inadequate home environments/space,
        and psychological discomforts for some of the workers. (National Analysts, 1991).

Flexiplace Pilot Project

In January of 1990, the President‟s Council on Management Improvement (PCMI) approved and
implemented its task force plans and guidelines for a government wide Flexiplace pilot. The
“Guidelines for Pilot Flexible Workplace Arrangements” (PCMI, 1990) was a comprehensive
document that eventually served as the primary boilerplate for Federal agency Flexiplace policies
as well as for numerous private sector and state/local telework programs. The basic tenets of
these guidelines are still being used today. (Joice, 2000)

Flexiplace implementation plans called for one-year pilot tests to be conducted by participating
agencies and evaluated by the OPM. The tests, which were to be conducted over an 18 month
period ending in October 1991, were expected to cover between 1500 to 2000 participants.
Participation developed slowly. While 30 Federal agencies initially expressed interest in
participating, only six agencies actually implemented programs during the first year. Other
agencies followed and by the end of 1990 there were about 200 total participants.

In January, 1993, OPM published a final report (Joice, 1993) on the work-at-home component of
Flexiplace. At that time, approximately 700 Federal employees from 13 agencies were
participating in Flexiplace. The report was positive, concluding that Flexiplace was a successful
program that provided significant benefits to participating employees. Further, Flexiplace showed
promise as an effective mechanism for national efforts regarding work/family, transportation , and
energy issues. The report recommended that the PCMI endorse Flexiplace for use by Federal
agencies. In October, 1993, OPM sent a memorandum to Federal personnel directors confirming
agency authority to utilize Flexiplace arrangements, encouraging agencies to use Flexiplace, and
providing guidance on its use. (Joice, 2000)

Transportation Implications of Telecommuting

The 1992 DOT Appropriations Act required the Department conduct a study of the potential for
telecommuting to reduce traffic congestion and the resulting air pollution, energy consumption,
accidents, and construction of new transportation facilities. (Weiner, 1994) The study reviewed
the trends in telecommunications, and the factors affecting telecommuting. Telecommuting was
defined as a worker making an electronic trip instead of a physical trip in a vehicle.
Telecommuting could be from a home, a telework center, or from some other remote location. It
could occur only one day a week, or for the majority of the week.

The level of telecommuting was projected to increase from two million in 1992, to between 7.5
and 15 million telecommuters nationwide by 2002, representing 5.2 to 10.4 percent of the work
force. Based on this estimate of telecommuting, between 17.5 and 35 billion vehicle miles of
travel would be saved. This reduction in travel would represent between 0.7 and 1.4 per cent of
total travel and between 2.3 to 4.5 per cent of commuting work travel. The total hours of travel
that would be saved ranged from 826 million to 1.65 billion annually. The travel reduction from
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telecommuting would result in savings of gasoline consumed of 1.1 to 2.1 per cent and a average
of 1.5 to 2.8 percent reduction in pollutants of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrous
oxides. The study also concluded that telecommunication services and equipment were
considered to be adequate for most existing applications of telecommuting, but that
high-bandwidth communication capabilities would be useful currently, and would be needed in the
future.

The estimates in the DOT study were national averages. A second study by the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE) addressed shortcomings in the DOT study. (U.S. Dept. of Energy, 1994)
Several issues were analyzed in the DOE study not addressed in the DOT study. First, was the
differential impact in metropolitan areas of different sizes. The study concluded that the impacts
would be greater in larger metropolitan areas. The congestion in these areas is more severe and
so the impact of telecommuting in reducing congestion would be greater in these large areas and
would gradually tail off with urban area size. (Figure 1)




Figure 1 - Projected Reduction in Traffic Delays in 339 Urban Areas
as a Result of Telecommuting - 2010

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 1994

Two other issues were of concern: induced travel and urban sprawl. The Department of
Transportation study did not make estimates of the factors. First was the question of induced
travel. This is a transportation concept that recognizes if traffic congestion was reduced by
telecommuting, some travelers would be induced to use the highways who might not otherwise
have driven because it was too congested and travel times were too long. As for urban sprawl,
there was concern that telecommuters who had to travel to work only a couple of days each might
be motivated to move further out and buy a larger and/or less expensive house. The DOE study
concluded that even accounting for these factors, there still would be a net benefit in terms of
reduce traffic congestion and lower energy consumption. (Figure 2)
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The DOT study made a number of recommendations to advance telecommuting. First, DOT
should actively promote telecommuting as a traffic demand measure to reduce the use of
automobiles. Second, under The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991
(ISTEA), telecommuting projects should be eligible for Federal funding to develop telecommuting
programs which could include planning, management, organization, promotion, marketing,
training, and public awareness campaigns, but not the acquisition and equipping of facilities such
as telework centers. These telecommuting programs had to be part of a transportation plan and
program developed by State and local agencies.

ISTEA did authorize Federal funding of transportation projects or programs having air quality
benefits under the Clean Air Act, which would include a wide range of telecommuting activities.
DOT proposed to work with State and local governments and the private sector to monitor
telecommuting activities and to disseminate relevant information on telecommuting as a travel
demand management measures.

Federal Telecommuting Centers (Telecenters)

The original Flexiplace guidelines called for pilot testing of telecenters as well as work-at-home
programs. Because work-at-home programs involved fewer resources and less complexity, the
initial phase of Flexiplace focused on work-at- home programs as opposed to telecenters.

Historically, the U.S. private sector and other countries began experimenting with telecenters
several years before the first Federal experiments. The first neighborhood telecenter opened in
France in 1981, and others opened shortly thereafter in Sweden, Switzerland, Jamaica, Japan,
and the United Kingdom. These early telecenters were established to slow the pace of rural-to-
urban employee migration, to foster economic development, to capitalize on lower wages and
operating costs in outlying areas, and to promote a less stressful environment. In 1985, Pacific
Bell established the first telecenter in the U.S. (U.S. General Services Administration, 1995)

Federal telecenters were first established through appropriations for fiscal year 1993 when
Congress designated $5 million to fund telecenters in Maryland and Virginia. Telecenter sites
were selected based on GSA's observation that 16,000 Federal employees commuted at least 75
miles each way on congested roads in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. In the Spring of
1993, GSA began working in partnership with State and local governments in the Washington
National Capital Area, and by December 1994, the Washington area had four telecenters--one
each in Hagerstown, Maryland; Charles County, Maryland; Winchester, Virginia; and
Fredericksburg, Virginia. These telecenters had a total of 80 workstations, 143 participants, and
a 55 percent utilization rate. Twenty organizations in ten executive branch departments and
agencies used these four centers. A survey of employees using the telecenters in 1994 showed
that the average round-trip commute distance was 102 miles. The average trip time was two
hours and forty minutes.

Congress continued to fund telecenters through fiscal year 1996, establishing additional
telecenters in the Washington area. In the Washington Metropolitan Area, currently eighteen
telework centers have been established. GSA, the agency responsible for Federal buildings,
administers this program. Federal agencies rent space in these centers, and the intention is that
they will become self-sustaining. The telecommuters need not be Federal employees--they can
come from State, local and private employers as well.

Telecenters in the Washington, DC pilot provide state-of-the-art equipment that may be better
than equipment provided by employers for use at the office or home. Telecenter equipment can
include cubicles, open work areas, some private offices, facsimile and copy machines, high
speed personal computers and modems, printers, separate voice and data lines, local area.
networks, various software packages, and voice mail. Centers often have a site manager to offer
technical help to users, and some centers offer video conferencing capabilities. Although none of
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Figure 2 - Direct and Indirect Effects of Telecommuting
On Fuel Consumption – 2010
(Billions of Gallons of Gasoline)

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 1994
the Washington area telecenters were affiliated with day care centers, most were in close
proximity to such facilities

Emergency Use of Telecenters - The Northridge Earthquake

In response to the Northridge (California) earthquake in 1994, the Federal Government initiated
the first use of telecenters as an emergency response measure. Only weeks after the January 17
earthquake, GSA established three emergency telecenters in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
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These telecenters helped Federal workers avoid commuting on badly damaged roads into Los
Angeles for what had become a six-hour round-trip commute for many of them

Federal employees were not the only beneficiaries of the markedly reduced commuting time
afforded by the California emergency telecenters. Agency customers were also spared the long
trip into downtown Los Angeles. For example, taxpayers in the Santa Clarita Valley could get
help from Internal Revenue Service employees at the Valencia Telecommuting Center only five or
ten minutes away. Similarly, veterans could substitute a tedious drive into west Los Angeles with
a short trip to the same facility to receive guidance from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
benefits counselor. All told, ten Executive Branch Departments or Agencies participated in the
Los Angeles area emergency telecenter program.

Despite little or no customer input on the location or size of the telecenters, utilization rates at two
of the three telecenters were relatively high: the Valencia site (38 workstations) operated at 87
percent of capacity during the emergency while the 29-workstation Westlake site was at 62
percent utilization well into FY 1994. The Sherman Oaks site with 32 workstations was at 34
percent utilization at its peak. GSA made these centers available cost-free to interested agencies
through the end of FY 1994 and experienced an overall utilization rate of 63 percent through the
emergency period. (Joice, 2000)

The goal of the California Federal telecenters was twofold: to serve as an emergency response
tool and to continue existing as an on-going telework option. In 1994, however, the emergency
Federal telecenters experienced a lesson which had been experienced previously by non-Federal
telecenters. Telecenters emerged ahead of their time. In order to get started, most telecenters
operated on a subsidy or emergency funding of some sort. This allowed them to price their
services at discount rates that were well below market rates and low enough to be a non-issue for
employers. To succeed, however, these centers needed to be self-supporting.

To achieve such independence, most telecenters eventually tried the obvious route of increasing
their fees to market level rates. Raising fees to market levels, however, had the additional impact
of putting telecenter fee levels on employer radar screens. Employers were faced with the
prospect of paying the now-significant telecenter fees in addition to the ongoing expenses for
their teleworkers‟ main office space: thus, employers were paying double overhead for each
teleworker using a telecenter. The bottom line result was that the raising of telecenter fees from
discounted (subsidized) levels to market levels highlighted the double overhead problem and
reduced the number of paying customers. To offset the cost problem, space vacated, partially or
fully, by teleworkers at their main place of work would need be released, reconfigured, or sub-
leased resulting in cost savings would more than offset the typically lower costs for telecenter
workstations.

By December of 1994, due to the aforementioned issues, only one of the California emergency
Federal telecenters (Valencia) continued to function. Given the mixed-use of this center, serving
both telecommuters and customers, and its relatively high utilization rate, the Valencia site was
able to continue to function with little or no subsidy.

National Telecommuting Initiative

The National Performance Review was launched to make the Federal Government more
effective, efficient, and responsive to the American people. It developed a wide range of
recommendations and actions to make government work better and cost less. Among its
recommendations were two directed at telecommuting. It recommended that DOT:

       implement a telecommuting programs for its employees the DOT , and
       evaluate the state of telecommuting programs in the private sector. (Clinton and Gore,
        1993)
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Later in 1993, the White House published “The Climate Change Action Plan” focusing on
environmental issues. Development of telecommuting was one of the plan‟s action areas. The
plan assigned EPA and DOT to take a series of actions designed to promote home-based and
center-based telecommuting. The plan required that:

       EPA, in consultation with DOT, issue guidance to states to take pro-
        telecommuting measures (e.g., reforming local zoning ordinances; giving
        employers extra credit under trip reduction ordinances, creating and tax
        incentives; and implementing telecommuting programs for state and local
        employees);
       DOT encourage states to use Federally provided transportation funds to initiate
        or expand telecommuting programs;
       DOT implement a Federal telecommuting pilot project with the goal of getting
        one to two percent of Federal employees to work at home at least one day a
        week; and
       DOT, in conjunction with other agencies, promote part-time, home-based
        telecommuting to reduce traffic congestion and promote energy conservation.
        (Clinton and Gore, 1993)

By 1994, it became clear that given the telecommuting responsibilities of DOT and GSA, the two
agencies should collaborate in Federal telecommuting activities. DOT had been designated as
the lead agency under the National Performance Review and the Global Climate Change Action
Plan to promote and evaluate telecommuting in the Federal Government as well as State and
local agencies and the private sector. DOT was also given responsibility for issues related to
traffic congestion and its effects on air quality, energy consumption and safety. GSA had the
primary responsibility for advancing telecommuting by the Federal employees.

In a July 1994 memorandum to all Federal agencies, President Clinton adopted the National
Performance Review's recommendation that a more family-friendly workplace be created by
expanding opportunities for Federal workers to participate in flexible work arrangements. The
memorandum directed that each agency:

       establish a program to encourage and support the expansion of flexible family-friendly
        work arrangements, including telecommuting and satellite work locations, and
       identify barriers and recommendations for addressing such barriers to the President's
        Management Council. (Clinton, 1994)

As an initial step in the implementation of this partnership between DOT and GSA, the agencies
developed two manuals to assist in implementing Federal telecommuting programs:
Implementing Telecommuting: Manual for the Interagency Telecommuting Program              and
Interagency Telecommuting Program: A Trainer's Guide. (Joice, 1994a and 1994b)

Then in 1996, DOT and GSA led a joint effort to give Federal telecommuting a much-needed
boost. Under the auspices of the President‟s Management Council (PMC), Federal agencies
were directed to increase telecommuting as part of the National Telecommuting Initiative (NTI).
The objectives of the NTI were to increase the number of Federal telecommuters, and promote
increased telecommuting in State and local governments, and private industry. Lead by DOT and
GSA, in conjunction with an interagency taskforce, the NTI became the first government wide
telecommuting initiative to set numerical goals: 60,000 Federal telecommuters by October 1998
and 160,000 by the end of 2002. (President‟s Management Council, 1996)

There was much activity in the early stages of the NTI which was to be a five phase program
including: initial surveys of telecommuters and agency resources, logistical preparation,
promotion, implementation, and evaluation. In 1995, the Federal National Telecommuting
Initiative identified 30 additional cities for telecommuting projects based on such factors as air
pollution, the potential for improved customer service, the size of the local Federal community,
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and geography. As of 1997, twenty GSA-funded telecenters existed nationwide in cities such as
Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco.

As a result of this initiative, the number of Federal employees that participated in formal
telecommuting programs nationwide increased from 3,000 in 1995, to 9,000 in 1996, and to an
estimated 25,000 in 1998. The resulting rate of telecommuting in 1998 was 1.6 percent of the
Federal workforce.

Best Practices of Telecommuting Programs

In DOT's FY 1996 Appropriations Act, the Department, in consultation with the Department of
Labor and EPA, was directed by Congress to "...carry out research to identify successful
telecommuting programs in the public and private sectors and provide for the dissemination to the
public of information regarding the establishment of successful telecommuting programs and the
benefit and cost of telecommuting."

In this study, a number of case studies were examined which provide insight into the components
of successful telecommuting programs. Although not present in every case study, a number of
elements occurred frequently enough to indicate that they should be considered in developing a
model telecommuting program. The following elements were found to be important in maximizing
the potential benefits of telecommuting to employees and employers. (U.S. Department of
Transportation, 1997)

    Top Management Support - Support from top management is critical to the development and
    implementation of a telecommuting program. Management must be willing to provide
    necessary financial support, as well as any changes in policies and procedures for
    telecommuting.

    Employee Interest and Support - Interest from employees is critical to the success of
    telecommuting programs, and must be promoted at the staff level. Employee groups may be
    encouraged to conduct background research, develop draft policies and programs, and
    pursue pilot tests within their own organization. Early inclusion and involvement of and
    support of labor unions are critical.

    Clearly Articulate Policies and Guidelines - Establish formal guidelines governing the
    telecommuting program. These policies identify the expectations of both employees and
    management, and outline the specific requirements such as productivity/accomplishments
    expected, work area, work hours, communications with the office, and other items.

    Support from Human Resource/Personnel Department - Support is important to ensure that
    both management and employees are able to obtain assistance during the implementation of
    a telecommuting program, as well as on an ongoing basis.

    Selection of Job Tasks - Guidelines must identify the types of jobs or job tasks and functions
    appropriate for telecommuting. Such jobs generally exhibit the following characteristics:

           Can work tasks be done at home or at a remote work site?
           Can work tasks be done without on-site or face-to-face interactions?
           Is equipment required available at home or at a remote work site?
           Can job objectives be identified and measured?

    Selection of Telecommuters - Establish employee criteria, including consideration of
    employee's work habits, for identifying and selecting telecommuters. It is recommended a
    signed agreement help establish the expectations of both supervisors and telecommuters.
    The following criteria are often considered:
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           Does employee want to participate in a telecommuting program?
           Is employee self-motivated and a self-starter?
           Does employee work independently?
           Does employee work well without supervision?
           Does employee complete tasks in a timely and professional manner?
           Does employee have a home office where they can work without interruption?

    Selection of Managers and Supervisors - The selection of managers and supervisors of
    telecommuters is as important as identifying telecommuters. Telecommuting may require
    managers to adopt new or to modify existing management styles and procedures. Employee
    productivity must be measured by factors other than direct oversight. The same standards
    that apply in the office apply to those working at home. Manager and employee must be
    comfortable with the telecommuting arrangement and have established a good working
    relationship.

    Establish Communication Methods - Regular and ongoing communication methods must be
    established, including regular times for phone calls, using emails, and making special
    arrangements in the case of an emergency.

    Monitoring and Evaluation - Regularly established, pilot or demonstration programs must
    have some type of monitoring and evaluation. These evaluations are used to gauge costs
    and benefits, with the results used in determining the future of the program. An ongoing
    monitoring system ensures that a telecommuting program continues to provide the desired
    benefits to both employees and employers. A monitoring program can help identify
    problems, permit appropriate remedial action to be taken, and can document benefits which
    may prove important in justifying the program.

    Equipment and Support - Although extensive equipment may not be necessary,
    telecommuters often use computers, links to the office, extra telephone lines, fax machines,
    and pagers. These items may be provided by the employee, the employer, or the costs may
    be shared. Situations vary, but employer provided equipment, connections and support
    services enhance compatibility, dependability and security. (U.S. Department of
    Transportation, 1997)

Regional Telecommuting Programs

Much of the information on telecommuting has been focused on planning, establishing and
evaluating programs within individual companies and organizations. There is little information
available on the planning, establishment and evaluation of telecommuting at the regional or
Statewide scale. Yet, it is State Departments of Transportation and Metropolitan Planning
Organizations (MPOs) that are tasked with improving mobility and reducing congestion.
Furthermore, these organizations are responsible for demonstrating that their transportation plans
and programs conform to the air quality plans in which telecommuting would be one element.

In November 1997, The Urban Transportation Monitor conducted a survey conducted of
telecommuting at the metropolitan scale. It found that 36 percent of the 56 responding MPOs
indicated that they have been involved in promoting telecommuting programs in their regions. Of
these, only 11 percent made adjustments in their travel forecasts to account for telecommuting.
(Rathbone, 1997)

In an effort to share information on the planning, establishment and evaluation of telecommuting
programs at the Statewide and regional scale, DOT conducted a Workshop on Planning Regional
Telecommuting Programs which was co-sponsored by two Transportation Research Board
technical committees. The workshop was attended primarily by staff from MPOs, transit agencies
and State DOTs. The workshop used material from the Congressionally-mandated report,
"Successful Telecommuting Programs in the Public and Private Sector." Many of the participants
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represented agencies that have begun to establish and evaluate regional telecommuting
programs. (Turnbull, 1997)

It was clear from this workshop that there was still a need for more information on telecommuting.
Participants concluded that information was needed on case studies covering various aspects of
establishing telecommuting programs, communicating with decision makers, employers and the
public, management, funding sources, technology, and travel analysis and impact assessment.
Research was called for to analyze the trends in telecommuting, their causes, and methods to
forecast telecommuting and it impacts on travel and air quality. (Turnbull, 1997)

Mandating Telecommuting by Federal Employees

After years of modest progress in telecommuting by Federal employees, U.S. Representative
Frank Wolf (VA) sponsored an amendment to the FY 2001 Department of Transportation
Appropriations Act requiring each Federal agency to establish telecommuting programs. Section
359 of the Act (Public Law 106-346), required that each executive agency establish a policy
under which eligible employees may participate in telecommuting to the maximum extent possible
without diminished performance. The Act requires that the policies initially cover 25 percent of
the Federal workforce, with an additional 25 percent added each year thereafter.

The Conference Report on the Act stated that the reason for the program was to reduce traffic
congestion. Further, that the program ensure that managerial, logistical, organizational, or other
barriers to full implementation and successful functioning be removed. Each agency was to
provide adequate administrative, human resources, technical, and logistical support to carry out
the program. It defined telecommuting any arrangement in which an employee regularly performs
officially assigned duties at home or other work sites at least one day per week.

OPM conducted several surveys to measure the progress in implementing these requirements.
OPM found that telecommuting by Federal employees increased from 45,300 in April 2001, to
74,500 in November 2001, to 90,000 in December 2002, to 102,900 in December 2003. This
level of telecommuting represented 2.6 percent of the Federal workforce in April 2001, 4.2
percent in November 2001, 5.0 percent in December 2002 and 5.8 percent in December 2003.
(U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2004)

Current Federal Role

At the present time, the Federal role in telecommuting has several elements. First, the Clean Air
Act established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). State and regional air quality
                                                                                               st
agencies develop plans to meet these standards. The Transportation Equity Act of the 21
Century (TEA-21) requires that transportation plans, programs, and projects conform to these air
quality plans.

In addition, TEA-21 funds under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ)
program are made available to States and MPOs for transportation projects or programs that
contribute to attainment or the maintenance of the NAAQS for ozone and carbon monoxide.
Planning, technical and feasibility studies, training, coordination, marketing and promotion are
eligible activities under CMAQ. Physical establishment or construction of telecommuting centers,
computer and office equipment purchases and related activities are not eligible. These projects
have to be included in the long range plan and shorter term transportation improvement program
(TIP).

Second, the Federal Government provides technical assistance and ongoing support to State,
regional and local government agencies and private businesses interested in implementing
telecommuting programs. There has been a growing interest in using telecommuting as a
strategy for reducing vehicle travel demand and air pollution. Telecommuting has been seen as
an attractive TDM strategy because it can contribute to congestion reduction, energy
                                                                               Weiner and Stein
                                                                                             14
conservation and independence, improvement of air quality, employment of people with limited
mobility (disabled, retired, or low income persons, or single parents), and rural economic
development. (Association for Commuter Transportation, 1998; Comsis et. al., 1993; and Shirazi,
et. al. 1991)

Third, with regard to telecommuting by Federal employees, agencies are moving to
establish telecommuting policies, determine eligible employees, and offer the opportunity
to them to telecommute to meet the requirements in the DOT FY 2001 Appropriations
Act. Workshops are held for Federal managers on developing and implementing
telecommuting programs. In addition, OPM and GSA jointly oversee the website
www.telework.gov, which was built by OPM. The website posts policy guidance for
setting up programs and suggestions related to management concerns about
telecommuting. The foremost barrier to telecommuting acceptance has been managers'
resistance based on fear of losing control over their employees. Other concerns include
the cost of supplying home office equipment for workers who need access to e-mail and
agency files, and the lack of information security in home offices. The website also posts
union agreements and links to other related websites. More recently, in the aftermath of
the attacks on September 11, telecommuting is being integrated into the Federal
Government's Continuity of Operations Program (COOP) and Federal agencies are
including telecommuting in their respective COOP plans for emergency preparedness.
(U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2004)

Conclusions

Although telecommuting alone is not a solution to traffic congestion and air pollution, it
can be important as one of several measures for addressing these problems. However,
after many years of Federal telecommuting activity, telecommuting nationwide is still
small. Even though, telecommuting options are relatively inexpensive compared to such
options as expanding highway capacity or transit service, the organizational inertia has
prevented telecommuting from becoming more widespread. The Federal government is
continuing to promote and evaluate telecommuting as a travel demand measure and as
an element in emergency preparedness plans.

References

Association for Commuter Transportation, 1998, Transportation Demand Management
Tool Kit, Washington, DC.

Clinton, William J., 1994, Expanding Family-Friendly Work Arrangements in the
Executive Branch, Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Branch Departments and
Agencies, The White House, Washington, DC, July 11.

Clinton, William J. and Al Gore, 1993. The Climate Change Action Plan, Washington, DC,
October.

Comsis, 1993, Implementing Effective Travel Demand Management Measures, Institute
of Transportation Engineers, Washington, DC, June

Joice, Wendell H, 2000, The Evolution Of Telework In The Federal Government, US General
Services Administration, Washington, DC, February.

________, 1994a, Implementing Telecommuting: Manual for the Interagency Telecommuting
Program, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. General Services Administration,
Washington, DC.
                                                                             Weiner and Stein
                                                                                           15
________, 1994b, Interagency Telecommuting Program: A Trainer's Guide. U.S. Department of
Transportation and U.S. General Services Administration, Washington, DC.

________, 1993, The Federal Flexible Workplace Pilot Project Work-at-Home Component – Final
Report, US Office of Personnel Management. Washington DC:, January.

National Analysts, 1991, Qualitative Evaluation of EPA Region 9’s Work-At-Home Experience,
Booz, Allen Hamilton.

President's Council on Management Improvement, 1990, Guidelines for Pilot Flexible Workplace
Arrangements, Washington, DC.

President's Management Council Interagency Telecommuting Working Group, 1996,
National Telecommuting Initiative Action Plan, Washington, DC, January.

Rathbone, Daniel B., 1997, Editorial, Urban Transportation Monitor, Lawley Publications,
Burke, VA, November 21.

Schiff, F.W., 1993, Comments on the Origins of Teleplace, MATAC, Washington, DC,
Unpublished presentation to the Mid-Atlantic Telecommuting Advisory Council.

Shirazi, Elham, Kim Brant, Steve Gerritson, Ann Dempsey, and Lori Diggins, 2001, An
Assessment of Telework in the New York Metropolitan Area, U.S. Department of
Transportation, Washington, DC, December.

Shirazi, Elham, Jeffrey W. Fink, and Joanne Pratt, 1991, Telecommuting: Moving the
Work to the Workers, Commuter Transportation Association Inc., Los Angeles, CA,
September.

Turnbull, Katherine F., ed., 1997, Workshop Proceedings: International Workshop on
Planning Regional Commuting Programs, U.S. Department of Transportation, TRB TDM
Committee, and TRB Telecommunication and Travel Behavior Committee Washington,
DC, November.

U.S. Department of Energy, 1994, Energy, Emissions, and Social Consequences of
Telecommuting – Technical Report One, Washington, DC, June.

U.S. Department of Transportation, 1997, Successful Telecommuting Programs in the Public
and Private Sectors: A Report to Congress, Washington DC, August .

________, 1993, Transportation Implications of Telecommuting, Washington, DC, April .

U.S. General Services Administration, 1995, Federal Interagency Telecommuting
Centers: Interim Report, Washington, DC, March.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2004, The Status of Telework in the Federal
Government - Report to the Congress, Washington, DC., May.

Weiner, Edward, 1994, Telework: A Vital Link to Transportation, Energy and the
Environment, Telework '94 Symposium: The Evolution of a New Culture, Toronto,
Canada, November.

								
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