Survey: Most managers link telework, COOP

Emergency Preparedness and COOP

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Most government managers believe telework should be a crucial part of an agency’s continuity-of-operations program (COOP), according to a new study.

In a Juniper Networks survey, 62 percent of federal, state and local respondents said the use of telework — involving secure access to remote data and information-sharing capabilities — is key to an agency’s COOP planning. It is especially applicable in scenarios where “social distancing” is necessary, such a flu epidemic, they said.

According to the survey results, 41 percent think that telework is so critical to COOP that all employees should telework occasionally as a form of COOP preparation.

At the same time, only 28 percent said their agencies use telework on a routine basis, defined as at least one day a week. Seventy-nine percent reported that their agencies support telework in some form.

Haywood Talcove, vice president of Public Sector Americas at Juniper Networks, said the findings are unique because they draw a connection between telework and COOP.

“In the past, people talked about the need for federal workers to telecommute for reasons like saving energy, being more efficient and [enhancing] work time, but the survey shows for the first time there is a connection between the ability to access information remotely and COOP,” he said.

Charles Church, chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, said the survey demonstrates that government is moving in the right direction for emergency preparedness.

“More and more agencies are coming to the realization that telework is a ‘must have’ for effective COOP planning,” he said.

The results are based on a poll of more than 1,400 respondents from federal civilian and Defense Department agencies, and state and local governments. About 50 percent represented executive and management-level positions.

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