- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks mean more feds will be doing their jobs from teleworking centers, and from home.
Until now, teleworking centers here had everything but people. Business has jumped in recent weeks, and analysts predict most of the 1,000 local telecommuting spaces will be used by workers whose Pentagon offices were destroyed.
Before the attacks, less than half the slots at local telecommuting centers were being used daily.
That has risen to about 60 percent.
Telecommuting centers, funded by Congress in a pilot program here, allow federal employees to avoid long commutes and workplace distractions by working one or two days per week or month from the centers.
The downside is that many bosses (some with good reason) worry about production when employees can't be eyeballed.
There is an equally big concern: the question of office safety (especially when it is a home office) and government liability for work-related injuries when, for example, a work-at-home employee falls in the kitchen or steps on a rake in the yard.
Some New York-based feds who were caught up in the terrorist attacks are being allowed to work at home, in part to help their mental healing processes as well as to solve the lack of office space.
The teleworking centers are open, cheap and have vacancies that could be filled by displaced Defense Department workers.
For more information on teleworking programs and a list of the centers, visit these sites: www.wmtc.org/telework_information.html; www.gsa.gov; www.opm.gov; www.telework.gov/education.htm

Bipartisan pay raise
The united front Congress and the White House have adopted because of emergency conditions should mean smooth sailing for the maximum (4.6 percent) federal pay raise, and legislation to permit government workers, military personnel and foreign service officers to keep and use frequent flier miles earned on official business.
In fact, legislatively marginal items of interest to government workers could become law as part of language inserts in more important appropriations bills. I'll keep you posted.

Early retirement
Thanks to a cleverly worded "hoax," thousands of federal workers are convinced Congress will approve a dead-of-night plan that will give them big buyouts (from $50,000 to $75,000) and bigger pensions if they retire by 2003.
A fake "news" story is making the rounds of federal offices courtesy of the Internet and e-mail. It lists a phony bill number, and the names of two nonexistent members of Congress.
Only a dozen federal agencies have the authority to offer buyouts with the legal maximum of $25,000. None has, or will get, permission to sweeten pension benefits of retirees.
Rather than paying people humongous buyouts to leave, the government is now luring retired specialists back for duties related to the attacks.

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