Kaine Launches Telework Initiative

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has signed an executive order creating an Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance within the Office of the Secretary of Technology. The Office will encourage and promote telework activities for public and private employers, and work to advance innovative models that expedite the deployment of “last-mile” broadband technologies throughout the Commonwealth.

Said Kaine at the 2006 Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium held in Roanoke: “Telework is a family-friendly, business-friendly public policy that helps us recruit and retain a high-quality workforce in a competitive job market. It also protects environmental quality and promotes energy conservation by reducing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions.”

With portable computers, personal digital technology, and high speed telecommunications links, many employees today can work almost anywhere at least some of the time. The Virginia General Assembly has set a goal of shifting a significant number of jobs into alternative work schedules by 2010, which will involve expanded use of telework. State agencies are being surveyed to gather baseline data on the amount of telework currently conducted.

One word reaction: Bravo!

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6 responses to “Kaine Launches Telework Initiative”

  1. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Jim – I had the same reaction. This is very good news, but we need to see the Commonwealth lead the way. There are probably many state jobs that could be telecommunted at least some of the time. Make yourself a note to see how much improvement the Kaine Adminstration makes a year from now.

    While I’m often a strong critic of Fairfax County, it has made a good start to teleworking. There have been a number of times when I’ve called a county employee to obtain information, only to be referred to their home telephone numbers. I received as good of service from the home-working employees as I did from the office-working ones.

    As with any goal, we must measure its performance. I hope the Governor’s follow-through is as good as the direction he has set and that businesses follow his lead.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The 600 lb gorilla in the Wash Metro area is the Feds and their contractors. The Feds have suggested to all of their agencies that telework is encouraged…. but TMT touched on the reason why there is reluctance – “measure performance”. Many managers are reluctant to support telework because.. they want their folks to be physically present because in their minds it’s far easy to monitor them that if they are physically somewhere else.

    The DOD-world Feds will not telework… workers who deal with classified info… either for the most part. It’s not because of the communcations connects (which can be encrypted).. it’s the paper and other online storage devices where data would be moved… so no go on that end of things.

    But I agree with Kaine and others. It’s not THE answer. It’s one of a series of an overall comprhensive approach.

    Also recognize.. that private industry … is much more open to telework… I think because they DO know how to measure performance so … I’m not sure what Kaine says.. will have any effect on private industry since what drives them is economic incentives so unless Kaine has tapped into things the state can do specifically… it’s just good thoughts.. and intentions.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Has Fairfax County ever heard of call forwarding? The whole point is to make this seamless.

  4. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Frank Wolf has introduced and passed legislation that reduces federal agency budgets if they don’t show measured improvements in telecommuting statistics. I don’t know whether it applies to DOD. Also, both Tom Davis and Jim Moran are big supporters of telecommuting for federal employees also.

    The problem seems to be with middle managers who aren’t ready to manage without the presence of their employees.

  5. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Jim – You’re being tremendously optimistic. Perhaps there’s something more to this you’re not letting out. But given this administration’s recently past practices, I’m very skeptical.

    The problem —very little telework, especially in state government— is one of policy. If the jobs and opportunities are created, the technology and hardware will follow. It doesn’t work backwards though; lots of new hardware and technology won’t create more than a couple of jobs.

    The point made by Toomanytaxes —management’s performance evaluations and bureaucratic culture— is at the core of telework; not broadband, accessible terminals, computer education, or any other factor.

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Jim, Actually, I agree with you. I would fully anticipate the state government would be bureaucratic and lethargic about implementing any telework initiatives. I didn’t mean to imply that changes would be easy. But you need to start somewhere.

    The real driver behind telework in state government could be real estate savings. More teleworkers translates into less demand for office space. In theory, state government could use the tool to whittle down its real estate portfolio. If there’s a reduction in traffic congestion, that’s a bonus.

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