A younger federal workforce could influence tech choices

Federal agencies must weigh the value of adopting innovative technologies with the added expense of securing them, said panelists at Federal Computer Week’s Government CIO Summit in San Diego earlier this month.

The panelists discussed the challenges posed by younger workers who want to use low-cost or free services, such as instant messaging applications, on government-owned computers. They said those newer technologies often run afoul of agencies’ personal use policies and introduce new information security and privacy vulnerabilities.

Cora Carmody, executive chief information officer at Science Applications International Corp., said young employees often take a technological step backward when they enter the workplace. They are often disappointed when they don’t find wireless connectivity, for example.

Instant messaging might be a novelty for some older workers, but younger people see it as an everyday tool for multitasking and increasing their workplace productivity, said David Sullivan, vice president of information technology at Hampton Roads Transit, a transportation company based in Virginia.

Instant messaging has an advantage over conference calls, said Vern Bettencourt, the Army’s deputy chief information officer. Unlike conference calls, people can log and save message chats for future reference.

Barry West, the Commerce Department’s CIO, said agencies can’t ignore new technologies and must learn to use them to their benefit.

The panelists said some federal agencies have created personal use policies for instant messaging, suggesting a growing comfort level with newer technologies. 

Adrienne Spahr, co-chairwoman of the Young Government Leaders, an organization of young public-sector workers, said younger employees can help older ones adapt to new technologies.

“Young people are influencing technology to some degree because they have grown up with and use it every day,” she said.

For example, Spahr said that at the Government Accountability Office, where she works, employees are beginning to rely more on videoconferencing, teleconferencing and secure meeting software to collaborate with people at different locations. “There are fewer and fewer barriers to working with people in different locations and time zones,” she said.

Newer technologies create a more efficient workplace, but they reduce face-to-face interactions, Spahr said. “For young staff, that can sometimes mean less mentoring and on-the-job training,” she said.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group