Lawmaker Threatens USDA Officials with 'Legislative Metrics' to Preserve Telework

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Andrew Harnik/AP

Rep. Gerry Connolly calls Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s recent rollback of telework at the agency “retrograde.”

A House Democrat during a hearing on government IT reform Wednesday demanded that officials with the Agriculture Department explain recent restrictions on the ability of agency employees to work remotely, and suggested he would introduce a bill on telework “metrics” to reverse the decision, if necessary.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., addressed executives at the agency during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Congress’ latest scorecard to measure implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, asking how they squared Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision to cut telework from effectively full time to one day per week with the agency being touted as an innovator in IT modernization.

“When I went to the White House a few weeks ago with [Texas Republican Rep. Will] Hurd to meet with [Jared] Kushner and [Chris] Liddell to talk about the innovation agenda, your agency was the one they decided will be the pilot project, in part because Secretary Perdue offered it up,” Connolly said. “That’s fine, but Secretary Perdue reportedly cut back on telework at USDA because when he was looking for someone while making the rounds, that person happened to be working remotely that day, and he reacted negatively to that . . . That seems to be a step backward from our point of view: telework is a very important, key element in the deployment of the IT issues we’re talking about.”

Donald Bice, deputy assistant secretary of Agriculture for administration, said he was “not aware of that particular incident,” and highlighted a number of exceptions to the new telework rules.

“Right now, people can telework up to one day per week, but there is also the ability that if someone needs a reasonable accommodation, that does not change and they can telework more than that,” Bice said. “And if there are space limitations—several agencies have assumed their office space based on the ability to telework—that did not change, and so you can still, as an agency head, can allow telework beyond the one day per week.”

Although the department’s new telework rule allows for exceptions, some employees at the agency headquarters’ South Building in Washington reported earlier this month that managers were hesitant to allow for additional telework while there was ongoing renovation and lead abatement in the vicinity of employees’ work space.

Connolly reiterated that he opposed the changes to restrict telework, and suggested that if the agency does not restore a more flexible telework program, he would consider legislative action to reverse Perdue’s decision. Last month, Connolly told Government Executive that he was preparing legislation to protect telework programs across government for introduction in the coming weeks.

“We think telework is very important, and we don’t want to see any backsliding,” the congressman said Wednesday. “We saw a lot of progress [in recent years] at USDA, particularly, and we don’t want to lose that. The fact that maybe there was a negative experience by the secretary ought not be a reason for reversing or changing substantially the telework policy. What we hope we won’t have to get into, well, is setting legislative metrics for you. We hope the cooperative spirit will continue.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.