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Obama signs telework expansion act

President Obama on Thursday signed into law a bill aimed at increasing telework in the federal government.

Under the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act (H.R. 1722), agencies will have 180 days to establish a policy on working outside the office, identify eligible employees and inform them of the option. The law also requires agencies to name an official to manage telework programs, and incorporate the policy into plans for continuing essential services during natural disasters or other emergencies.

The House passed the final version of the measure in mid-November, after a heated debate in which a number of Republicans argued it was too costly and would create extra bureaucracy. Some members also were upset that the Senate had stripped out oversight provisions the House approved in July.

The bill Obama signed requires the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Personnel Management to periodically evaluate telework progress.

The measure drew wide support from employee groups. "This is the culmination of tireless effort from countless lawmakers, staffers and advocates who believe enhancing federal telework will make the government more efficient, more attractive to aspiring public servants and more secure in the event of a natural disaster through continuity of operations," the Telework Exchange, an organization advocating for the alternate work arrangement, said in a statement Thursday.

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