Roundtable Weekly
Senate Bill Introduced to Define Federal Remote Work Roles; GSA Inspector General to Investigate Agency Telework Policies
October 20, 2023

Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) recently introduced the Telework Reform Act to codify government definitions of remote work and improve the accountability and transparency of federal telework programs. Meanwhile, the Inspector General of the General Services Administration (GSA) confirmed an audit is underway that is focused on how the agency manages telework and remote positions for over one million federal workers. (Lankford news release, Oct. 12 | Senate bill S. 3015) | Washington Times, Oct. 18)

Congressional Efforts

  • The Senate legislation would require teleworking federal employees to return to their offices at least twice per two-week pay period. The bill also includes measures that would enforce annual reviews of telework agreements, mandate training for managers, and improve performance management, data accuracy, and cyber-security. (Government Executive, Oct. 13 and Federal News Network, Oct. 17)
  • Separately, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is seeking to add an amendment to federal spending bills that would force agencies to provide details on the cost of telework. “There’s no better way to start paying off our nation’s over $33 trillion debt than a clearance sale on unused office space.” (Washington Times, Oct. 18 | BGov, Sept. 14)

  • A recent letter from the GSA’s Inspector General to Sen. Ernst confirmed the IG's oversight investigation into the agency’s telework policies. (Washington Times, Oct. 18)
  • As the largest landlord in the United States, GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS) owns and leases more than 8,800 assets and maintains an inventory of more than 370 million square feet of rentable workspace. (GSA Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2022-2026)
  • The Senate actions come as a House subcommittee announced it will hold a second hearing on federal agencies’ post-pandemic telework policies. (See Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15 for coverage of the first hearing).
  • Language similar to the SHOW UP Act is included in House-passed appropriations legislation. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15)

Roundtable Advocacy

  • The Real Estate Roundtable has urged President Biden and national policymakers for months to end government policies that encourage remote working arrangements for federal employees. (RER letter to President Biden, Dec. 2022; RER letter to Senate, April 2023)
  • In April, the White House Office of Personnel Management announced it was ending its “maximum telework” directive to federal agencies (Roundtable Weekly, April 21)
  • In August, the White House ordered Cabinet officials to increase the return of federal employees to their offices. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 11)

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, repeatedly has emphasized that remote working by federal employees is undermining the health of cities, local tax bases, and small businesses. (Commercial Observer and The Hill, April 14) 

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