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ITAA Urges Federal Telework

Testifying Thursday before the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) President Harris N. Miller said telework offers important advantages to federal agencies and workers.

Miller said telework makes the physical location of a job irrelevant, and pointed to examples of companies gaining productivity, saving real estate costs, increasing employee satisfaction and retention and gaining other important benefits, including a strategy to meet worker shortages.

"With the expansion of telework...there are more chances than ever for government to use information technology to enhance the productivity, morale, and well being of federal workers, and the efficiency of federal agencies and government overall," said Miller.

Pointing to an aging federal workforce, Miller said, "If a worker can perform his or her job remotely from Arizona or Hilton Head, he or she may be more likely to continue to work part-time, full-time, or as a contractor instead of leaving government altogether upon retirement eligibility."

Miller said several issues must be addressed to realize the full benefits of telework. One such issue is the failure of workers to make the connection between telework and broadband technology.

"A fast and reliable connection between a telecommuter and the agency or company's network is the backbone of any successful telecommuting operation. However, despite the many advantages that a broadband connection delivers to customers, demand to date has not moved as rapidly as many of us hoped or expected," he said.

He noted that over 70 percent of U.S. households have access to broadband but only 15 percent actually take advantage of high speed Internet connections. Other barriers to telework Miller cited include security concerns, multiple and conflicting tax laws and regulations, and questions about who would decide the jobs eligible for teleworking status. He said that government contractors should be allowed to telework too.

The Arlington, Va.-based ITAA consists of over 500 direct corporate members throughout the U.S., and a global network of 41 countries' IT associations. Members range from the smallest IT start-ups to industry leaders in the Internet, software, IT services, ASP, digital content, systems integration, telecommunications, and enterprise solution fields. A complete copy of Miller's testimony can be found at www.itaa.org.