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Establishing Telecommuting Policies

Friday, February 9, 2001
Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies
Steven R. Cohen, Acting Director
Establishing Telecommuting Policies

In our memorandum to you dated January 29, 2001, subject as above, we informed you of the FY 2001 Transportation Department appropriations measure that requires executive agencies to establish policies on telecommuting. We also informed you that we anticipated further developments on telecommuting. The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the breadth of the effort we believe is necessary to satisfy the intent of the law (Section 359 of Public Law 106-346 - Attachment 1). Many of you already have telecommuting policies, but this does not necessarily mean you are in compliance. The purpose of the law is to require that each agency take a fresh look at the barriers that currently inhibit the use of this flexibility and act to remove them and increase actual participation. The law recognizes that not all positions are appropriate for telecommuting, but each agency must identify positions that are appropriate in a manner that focuses on broad objective criteria. Once an agency has established eligibility criteria, subject to any applicable agency policies or bargaining obligations, employees who meet them and want to participate must be allowed that opportunity if they are satisfactory performers. Attachment 2, which identifies characteristics of jobs that lend themselves to telecommuting, along with OPM's and GSA's guidelines (referenced below), should be used in the identification of positions that do and do not lend themselves to telecommuting. Telecommuting employees may either work at home or at a telecenter. The "Reporting Form - Establishing Telecommuting Policies" provided in our January 29 memorandum has been revised and is attached (Attachment 3). This form must be returned to us by April 2, 2001. Our plan is for agencies to go to one web site to acquire all of the information needed relative to telecommuting. Until that occurs, listed below are useful web sites to assist you in creating your telecommuting policies and administering a telecommuting program:

If you need additional assistance or information, please contact Mallie Burruss at 202-606-5529 (email: or Ron Patterson at 202-606-1740 (email: Attachments - 3 cc: Human Resources Directors        Work/Life Coordinators        Telecommuting Coordinators

Attachment 1

Section 359 of Public Law No. 106-346, October 23, 2000
    "SEC. 359. Each executive agency shall establish a policy under which eligible employees of the agency may participate in telecommuting to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance. Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall provide that the requirements of this section are applied to 25 percent of the Federal workforce, and to an additional 25 percent of such workforce each year thereafter."

Conference Report Language

"Section 359 establishes a program to reduce traffic congestion that will allow eligible employees of federal agencies to participate in telecommuting to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance. Within one year, the Office of Personnel Management shall evaluate the effectiveness of the program and report to Congress. Each agency participating in the program shall develop criteria to be used in implementing such a policy and ensure that managerial, logistical, organizational, or other barriers to full implementation and successful functioning of the policy are removed. Each agency should also provide for adequate administrative, human resources, technical, and logistical support for carrying out the policy. Telecommuting refers to any arrangement in which an employee regularly performs officially assigned duties at home or other work sites geographically convenient to the residence of the employee. Eligible employees mean any satisfactorily performing employee of the agency whose job may typically be performed at least one day per week. The House and Senate proposed no similar provision."

Attachment 2


This document identifies some of the tasks/job characteristics that may/may not be suitable for telecommuting.

Most Suitable for Telecommuting Least Suitable for Telecommuting
  • Jobs that involve thinking and writing
  • Data Analysis
  • Writing Decisions or reports
  • Telephone Intensive Tasks
  • Computer-oriented Tasks (data entry, web page design, word processing, programming, engineers)
  • Payroll transaction processing
  • Analysis type work (investigators, program analysts, financial analysts)
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Researchers
  • Customer service jobs
  • Jobs requiring face-to-face interaction
  • Positions that use Privacy-Act protected data
  • Frequent access to material that cannot be moved from the Federal office
  • Involvement with Top Secret documents
  • Site specific occupations
  • Trainee and entry-level positions
  • Positions dealing with classified material

Note: There are, of course, exceptions to this list, and the list is not all-inclusive. Contact the Office of Work/Life Programs if you need further guidance.

Attachment 3

Reporting Form - Establishing Telecommuting Policies

AGENCY NAME: _________________________________ REPORTING DATE: _________________________________ AGENCY CONTACT Name: _________________________________ Address: _________________________________                     _________________________________ Phone Number: _________________________________ Email Address: _________________________________ 1. Total Number of Employees in your Agency: _____________ 2. Total Number of Employees Participating in Regularly Scheduled Telecommuting (averaging at least one day per week): ______________ Total Number of Employees Participating in Non-Regularly Scheduled Telecommuting (averaging at least one day per week): ______________ (Do not count typical work that involves travel most of the day.) 3. Does your agency have a telecommuting policy? Yes _____ No _____ 4. Does your policy cover all agency employees? Yes _____ No _____ 5. If your answer to Question 4 is No, what percentage of your total workforce is covered by the policy?

  • Percentage of Total Workforce Covered: _____
  • Number of Employees Covered: _____

6. Does your policy include the following basic elements?

  • Identification of Positions Suitable for Telecommuting Yes _____ No _____
  • Definition of "Telecommuting": Yes _____ No _____
  • Definition of "Eligible Employee": Yes _____ No _____
  • Provision for Union participation: Yes _____ No _____
  • Performance Issues: Yes _____ No _____
  • Time and Attendance Issues: Yes _____ No _____
  • References to telecommunications, equipment, services: Yes _____ No _____
  • Liability and responsibility issues: Yes _____ No _____
  • Reporting Requirements Yes _____ No _____
  • Conditions of a Pilot Program (if appropriate) Yes _____ No _____

IN ADDITION: Provide - (1) a narrative discussion of your plans for developing policies for covering 100 % of your workforce if your existing policy covers only a portion (if you wish, you may attach a copy of your policy); and (2) identify problems/barriers associated with increasing the number of telecommuters in your agency. RETURN BY APRIL 2, 2001, TO: Office of Workforce Relations (Attention: Mallie Burruss) Office of Work/Life Programs U.S. Office of Personnel Management 1900 E. Street, NW, Room 7316 Washington, DC 20415-2000 OR FAX to: (202) 606-2091 Questions may be referred to Mallie Burruss at (202) 606-5529 (email: or Ron Patterson at (202) 606-1740 (email: