Monday, January 17, 2011

Time For Congress to Telecommute to Work?

In November of 2010, The Telework Enhancement Act was signed and adopted by the Federal government. It requires Fed agencies to develop policies and guidelines so that all Fed employees can use our Internet to telecommute to work. Democratic Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland sponsored the bill, which aims to reduce the cost of agency operations and allow employees to work from home or other locations to get their jobs done. Rep. Sarbanes has more on the new law here.

Today, Oak Ridge resident and writer Richard Cook takes the next logical step in this area and proposed in his editorial in the Tennessean that Congress itself needs to adopt telecommuting to conduct business too. It would keep them at home in their districts more often, and keep representative in closer touch with constituents and reduce the time they spend being surrounded by lobbyists - and perhaps offer much more to the nation:

Members now live in Washington. They get soaked in the power, the money and the lobbyists with the money. It stains their perspective and warps their judgment. They forget whom they work for. A virtual Congress will have them live among the people they serve.

The public's business can be conducted online, while politicians attempt to be in line with their constituents.

Committee meetings can be held online, with members participating from their offices or even a local elementary school. That will be a wonderful civics lesson.

Citizens can travel a few hours to attend these Internet committee meetings. Lobbyists can attend those committee meetings, too. That would be a civics lesson of a different sort.

A virtual Congress will give members real time feedback on their decisions. Congressmen will vote online in the late morning and then will have to defend their vote at the local Rotary Club luncheon a few minutes later.

Richard is not alone in his call to consider such a change.

Of course, the Always-Oppose-Obama crowd sees nothing but horror when it comes to any change in the way government works, as evidenced by this response to telecommuting from Instapundit, who worries it would make it impossible to fire someone.

Since Congress has required every Federal agency to develop telecommuting practices, then why not Congress itself?

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