Articles

GSA Lauds GAO Decision on Telework, Broadband Services Policy

"GSA recognizes the importance of alternative workplace arrangements and its benefits to employees, productivity and the environment."

by / January 19, 2007
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) said it 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:
  • a. In accordance with Public Law 104-52, section 620; 31 U.S.C. section 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.
  • b. 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.