Bipartisan Senate bill pushes agencies on stronger telework oversight

The Telework Transparency Act from Sens. Peters and Ernst requires agencies to bolster data collection on telework policies and monitor how those policies impact performance.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., listens during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Feb. 1, 2022, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Bonnie Cash/Getty Images)

Four years after temporary pandemic telework policies were put in place for federal employees, a bipartisan pair of senators are seeking stronger agency oversight of the practice as return-to-office calls heat up. 

The Telework Transparency Act from Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, would require agencies to collect data on telework and monitor how the policies affect both agency performance and decisions on federal property. The bill, shared first with FedScoop, is intended to reveal the pros and cons of telework in the post-pandemic era. 

“Federal agencies must track and consider the impact of telework on their ability to deliver services, recruit and retain talent, and ensure office operations are cost-efficient,” Peters said in a statement. “My bipartisan bill will require agencies to gather accurate data on telework policies to provide more transparency and help ensure federal agencies are effectively carrying out their missions for the American people.” 

Referring to telework as a “remote lifestyle,” Ernst said in a statement that the practice “comes at the expense of the people federal agencies are meant to serve.” 


“For too long, Americans have been on hold while bureaucrats phone it in,” she said. “My bipartisan bill will provide full transparency into the inefficiencies of telework, so taxpayers are no longer on the hook for expensive wasted space at federal headquarters and misspent locality pay.” 

Though the Office of Personnel Management publishes a yearly report on agency telework practices, the agency said in its fiscal year 2022 report that data is more than a year old at the time of reporting and is often inaccurate and inconsistent.

Improved data collection is a major component of the legislation, which calls on agencies to use automated systems to track employees’ telework. The bill also requires OPM to set quality data standards and create and maintain a publicly available tool that shares agency telework data, using “data visualization or other data presentation techniques to support strategic executive agency workforce planning and talent management objectives.”

Agencies would also be charged with monitoring the use of federal buildings and gauging how telework impacts a variety of performance-related tasks, such as customer service, operational costs, investments in technology and recruitment and retention.

The introduction of Peters and Ernst’s legislation comes amid an increasingly concerted push across Washington, D.C., for federal workers to get back to the office. The White House has reportedly leaned on Cabinet secretaries to expedite the transition back to in-person work, while D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser continues to urge the Biden administration to force the issue. 


During a November hearing before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce, several agency officials reported rising rates of in-person work, while also making the case for continued telework flexibility.

“Regardless of where our employees are located, they are working,” Oren “Hank” McKnelly, executive counselor at the Social Security Administration, said during the hearing. “Telework is not one size fits all.”

Matt Bracken

Written by Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken is the managing editor of FedScoop and CyberScoop, overseeing coverage of federal government technology policy and cybersecurity. Before joining Scoop News Group in 2023, Matt was a senior editor at Morning Consult, leading data-driven coverage of tech, finance, health and energy. He previously worked in various editorial roles at The Baltimore Sun and the Arizona Daily Star. You can reach him at

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