Ah, election season. What a joy. It's a time when your television is full of ads about who is going to ruin your life faster, (pre-recorded) phone calls from national leaders "personally" asking you to vote for their guy or gal, and flyers, door hangers, and other collateral in lots of bright colors. It's okay. It's over. You can plug the phone back in, answer the door when someone knocks, and actually find the mail you were looking for in the stack again.
Of course I am being sarcastic because I believe that there is nothing you can do as an American that is more important for our nation than to cast your ballot. It's what makes this nation great that each and every citizen has the right (and therefore, the obligation) to vote. Yes, I know kids, prisoners, and parolees can't vote, but you get the idea. And once every two years or so, we get an opportunity to be told what great things will be done by the current folks as well as the ones who want their jobs.
Now that the people have spoken and we have some of the old crew as well as a bunch of new people coming to Washington, so what does that mean for telework? Let me start by saying to our returning and newly elected officials that whatever political flag you fly, telework can help you meet the promises that you have made to your constituents. Whether that is more efficient and less expensive or more effective and transparent government, telework is a tool that can help you get there.
Telework can reduce the cost of government by lowering the demand for office space, improve efficiency, and may even result in more people working outside of Washington. It can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, allow people to spend more time with their families and on civic pursuits, and even improve transparency since teleworkers need to be managed by performance, not attendance. It has truly bi-partisan advantages and is one of the issues of national policy that gives our elected officials the opportunity to do what the nation clearly wants: make government better and cheaper.
So next week Congress comes back for what is known as the lame duck session (because it's the pre-election Congress, not the new folks). When they come back, the House of Representatives will have the opportunity to pass a bill (H.R. 1722) that was previously passed by the House in July (with both Democratic and Republican support) and then passed by the Senate earlier in the fall with some minor changes. This proposed law would require Federal agencies have a telework policy, name a senior official in charge of telework management, and to incorporate telework into their continuity of operations (COOP) plans.
If the House passes the Senate bill during the lame duck, it will go to the White House and the President has said he is ready to sign it. If they don't pass it before the end of the year, then it's up to the new House to take action when they are sworn in early next year. Either way, this bill gives both parties an opportunity to show the nation that they can and will work together to make government more responsive and responsible to the people. There is a phrase in Latin (facta, non verba) that sums up for me the message that was sent from every polling place across the country earlier this month. Actions speak louder than words.