Department of Agriculture/Substituting Telework for Transit Subsidies

Per the 2012 Status of Telework in the Federal Government Report, published by the Office of Personnel Management, it is reported that among those Federal employees who teleworked, 31% did so once per week, 35% did so twice per week, and 34% teleworked 3 or more times per week.

If the telework-eligible federal employees (31% per the 2012 Status of Telework in the Federal government) who wanted to work from home (89% per the same report) did so at the same frequency as existing federal teleworkers, calculations suggest that the government could save between $125 and $200 million a year in transit subsidies.  Here’s How:

In 2010, about 765,000 federal workers used public transportation or a car/van pool to get to work. If instead, those employees who were telework-eligible (31% per the 2012 Status of Telework in the Federal government) and wanted to work from home (89% per the same report) did, the transit subsidy savings would total $26 to $51 million a year (assuming existing subsidy levels of $125, or $240 per month as proposed.)

This practice is innovative because it strategically ties reduction in transit subsidy costs to increased participation in Telework- which is an example of exactly the type of efficiency that the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 was designed to achieve.  This easily adoptable method for increasing Telework participation across the Federal government for those who are eligible, will automatically reduce costs for transit subsidies- which currently cost the government a maximum of $152.00 per month, per employee- just to get them to work.  By reducing the cost of subsidies and increasing participation in Telework, the American public gets the same level of output and productivity for a reduced cost.

Specifically, in 2011, based on current and projected Telework eligibility and participation rates, the USDA was able to save, through cost avoidance, 2 million dollars as it executed its Fiscal Year contract with the Department of Transportation to fund its Transit Subsidy Program.

In alignment with the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, USDA determined that more than 70% of its total workforce is eligible to participate in telework. Based on a cost savings model used from the Telework Research Network, if those employees who currently receiving transit subsidies and are eligible to telework desired to add just two additional days of telework per week and opted to reduce their transit subsidy to work from home or from an alternate worksite closer to their home- USDA would save nearly $1 million, or more, per year.

If USDA’s model were applied government wide, similar telework participation/transit subsidy decreases could possible save agencies more than $4.5 billion per year, reduce greenhouse gases by 309 thousand tons and save 1.7 million barrels of oil (valued at $156 million).

Reductions in funding Transit Subsidies by increasing telework would also help to stimulate the economy by saving federal employees between $350 and $1,000 per year and would allow them to recoup up to 6 full work days per year- time they would have otherwise spent commuting back and forth to their traditional offices.

Department of Agriculture

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