Infrastructure a hurdle for videoconferencing legislation

Agencies might have trouble cutting travel budgets as much as a new bill proposes, and videoconferencing -- the legislation's preferred solution -- brings its own set of challenges.

Videoconference

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives in July aims to reduce travel expenses for federal employees by up to half by 2017, but complying with such a robust cost-cutting measure could pose challenges to many federal agencies.

H.R. 2643, introduced by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), would make videoconferencing an integral part of a plan developed by the director of the Office of Management and Budget to cut $7.5 billion off the $15 billion the government spends on travel each year.

Yet challenges in IT infrastructure, tight agency budgets and policy are potential barriers to entry for many agencies.

"To get that kind of reduction, you're going to have to have a significant infrastructure upgrade – you're increasing traffic across the network when your employees are videoconferencing," said Jason Parry, Collaboration Practice Director at Force 3, a federal IT solutions provider.

Agencies with highly developed IT infrastructures might not sweat the extra bandwidth required by employees engaging in more video conferences, but smaller agencies that haven't built out existing infrastructures yet might not be able to pony up the cash to modernize.

In addition, proprietary videoconferencing software can be an expensive acquisition for agencies that haven't dabbled in it before. But some new technologies could help alleviate the financial burden for agencies with tight budgets.

"Video conferencing is increasingly cloud-based or IP-enabled, so access can be available via an agency's established enterprise network," said Cindy Auten, general manager for Mobile Work Exchange.

"Agencies do not necessarily need to invest in new systems for video conferencing solutions, which can range from off-the-shelf services to dedicated meeting facilities that make it appear as if remote participants are actually in the room – and price points will vary," Auten added.

Fitzpatrick's bill incorporates aspects of several other executive and legislative policies, including the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, Executive Order 13589 and OMB's 12-12-12 memorandum, which already called for agencies to reduce travel expenditures by 30 percent compared to 2010 levels.

Yet those policies have been interpreted and treated differently by various agencies, with NASA, for example, disallowing travel for employees when remote participation by phone or videoconference was possible. That move saved the agency $21 million in fiscal 2012, but overall savings realized from decreased travel and increased videoconferencing are likely to vary significantly from agency to agency.

Executive-branch videoconferencing policy would be set by OMB, but after the general guidelines are in place, agencies could tailor them to fit their mission.

"On the policy side of it, if [the bill] passes and it's in place, the question will be how agencies use videoconferencing, what they should use it for, and when you should do it as opposed to traveling and other means of communication," Parry said. "Enforcing that legislation if any of those policies are shaky, it really doesn't work."

Parry said cutting feds' travel costs in half by 2017 is a lofty goal -- one that might best be met by a "gradual approach" rather than a sudden shift. Any plan would have to be transparent so that savings are tracked, documented and potentially reallocated elsewhere, Parry added.

"I think that the best plan would look at a gradual reduction," Parry said. "It is not going to be like flipping a switch. For what they intend to reduce over the next few years, we would need a plan where a portion of the money being saved would be allocated back to a capital budget to be able to provide the infrastructure that is required to reach that 50 percent mark."

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.