Department of Defense Launches Telecommuting

The Defense Department has signed off on a policy that allows up to 25 percent of eligible employees to work from home or telecenter work site as part of compliance with a federal interagency telework law.

The policy recognizes telework as a tool to minimize traffic congestion and pollution emissions in the National Capital Region. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S. Chu encouraged Defense managers to actively promote teleworking within their organizations, to support proposals for teleworking for their employees, and make every effort to overcome artificial barriers to this program.

The policy promotes two types of telework arrangements to Defense employees: regular telework, and "ad hoc" telecommuting on a one-time or irregular basis. Work assignments in the "ad hoc" are defined as situations that may occur intermittently throughout the year or be a one-time event. Examples include short-term work assignments, approved web-based continuous learning, and employees recovering from injury or illness.

Positions eligible for telework are those involving tasks and work activities that are portable, - and do not depend on the employees being at the traditional worksite. Tasks suited for telework include: writing; policy development; research; analysis report writing; telephone-intensive tasks; and computer-oriented tasks (e.g. programming, data entry, word processing, web page design).

Reasons for implementing this policy were to actively promote telework as a legitimate flexibile work arrangement for managers and their employees throughout the Department of Defense. The policy outlines the department's efforts to:

For employees to telecommute, the policy requires both the worker and the supervisor to sign an agreement that covers work schedule, work site safety rules, and security issues. Management also informs the employee about the quantity and quality of expected work products, how work will be evaluated, and may require telecommuters to report to the traditional worksite on scheduled telework days as needed.

Supervisors and employees participating in the Department of Defense Telework Program are encouraged to undertake training in telework, as experience shows that the most successful telework arrangements include initial training for both supervisors and employees.

Note: This Policy implements the requirements of Section 359 of Public Law No. 106-346, sponsored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, which requires all federal agencies to allow 25 percent of eligible employees to telecommute by the end of December 2001. The legislation has an additional goal of increasing that percentage by 25 percent each year for the three fiscal years.

The Department of Defense's telework policy and guide can be viewed at