Legislation Calls on Feds to 'Stay in Place, Cut the Waste'

Use video conferences instead of travel, lawmaker says.

A House lawmaker late Wednesday introduced legislation that would reduce the amount federal agencies spend on travel expenses by leveraging video conferencing and telework.  

The bill (H.R. 2643) – the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act – introduced by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., would require the government to develop a plan that reduces agency travel expenses up to 50 percent by 2017 by implementing video conferencing technologies.

The bill would require the director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop a plan to use video conferencing to achieve a 50 percent reduction in agency travel expenses below 2013 levels, or else the greatest reduction in travel expenses that the OMB director deems feasible.

Fitzpatrick noted in the legislation that while the administration has touted video conferencing as a means for reducing agency travel expenses, such technologies still remain largely untapped.

Cindy Auten, general manager of Mobile Work Exchange, on Thursday expressed support for the bill, noting that now is an ideal time to look at how video conferencing can save government money, particularly as agencies not only look to reduce travel and conference expenses but also work to overcome a key barrier to telework implementation – management resistance.

“Managers are looking for ways to stay connected to their employees, regardless of where they are located,” Auten said. “Video is an efficient way to stay connected when email and phone just might not cut it. It adds back in the face-to-face collaboration. It’s a win-win. Leveraging the right technology can save agencies time and money.”