• United States

Telework world update

Apr 22, 20033 mins
Data Center

* See which telework initiatives are back on track, treading water or stalled

Last we checked in on the eCommute Program (see editorial link below) – the two-year, five-city pilot program that encourages businesses to adopt telework in return for emissions credits — the EPA had fired its management group, the National Environmental Policy Institute. Recently, the EPA awarded the eCommute contract to a new group, the Global Environmental and Technology Foundation (, a not-for-profit organization that “promotes the development and use of innovative technology to achieve sustainable development.” Whatever; I just hope it can manage eCommute on the up and up.

Last year, in the same column, I covered the dispute between the U.S. Patent Office and its unionized patent examiners. Management unexpectedly terminated the office’s telework program. The union said management pulled the plug because it wasn’t seeing a monetary savings and because employees liked the program too much. Management cited disagreement over desk sharing and concerns that examiners with less-than-exemplary records would be allowed to telework. 

The good news is that a full-fledged program was instated this year, which includes 700 senior-level examiners, twice the number that participated in the pilot. The bad news is the examiners have no technology support, and are left to lug classified paper documents to and from home in the trunks of their cars. The light version of the software examiners used in the pilot program is no longer being supported. In a Federal Computer Week article, a Patent Office spokesperson was quoted as saying it’s far too costly and complicated at this point to provide the hardware, software and lines.

Next, remember when then Georgia gubernatorial candidate Sonny Perdue promised to make high-speed Internet access ubiquitous, reduce traffic by making telework standard practice, and give families more time at home as “life is recentered on the home and not the workplace” (see editorial link below)?

Well, forget it. As it stood, one of the two groups vying for the state’s $1.8 billion telecom contract – dubbed the Converged Communications Outsourcing Project (CCOP) – pulled out. This past January Gov. Perdue formed a task force to review the project.

In a news release, Perdue stated, “Faced with one remaining bidder, it is important for the state to step back and reassess our needs in information technology. In these tough financial times, we have an obligation to identify and implement the most cost-effective solutions for the people of Georgia.”

Among other things, the task force is charged with balancing the costs between urban and rural areas, and the disparity of services between metro Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. It is considering how state and local government entities can “stay current with telecommunications advances without additional capital outlay.”

So it was less than a shock when Perdue in February recommended the Georgia Technology Authority “not move forward with the CCOP bid,” stating that the task force “should not have its hands tied while reviewing Georgia’s telecomm needs.”