GSA plans employee teleconference program

Virtual meeting centers expected as soon as early 2011

 The General Services Administration plans to establish 14 virtual meeting places to link employees, cutting energy consumption and saving on travel. The program is expected to go live in early 2011, according to GSA officials.

“This is a striking upgrade to what GSA has had before,” Martha Johnson, GSA Administrator, told reporters Oct. 25 at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va. “We’re going to get people off airplanes and into teleconferencing.”

AT&T has been awarded an estimated $18 million task order through GSA’s Networx Enterprise contract vehicle to develop and manage the virtual network that will feature high-definition video and advanced audio equipment, as well as “state-of-the-art collaboration tools to enhance the immersive experience and facilitate participant productivity,” according to a GSA release.

The live virtual meetings are designed to increase efficiency in terms of energy and production, according to Johnson.

“As the federal government's workplace solutions expert, GSA is exploring new ways to create a more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable government for the American people,” she said. “This includes incorporating innovative and collaborative technologies like virtual meeting centers to create seamless connections around the world. Availability of virtual meeting technology will help launch our government to the next level of productivity.”


Related story:

FOSE Q&A with GSA leader Martha Johnson



Costs for the system are set to be on a “pay-as-you-go” model – AT&T will roll infrastructure costs in an hourly rate to be purchased by GSA, as well as other federal agencies that will be able to access the GSA centers for use.

This process allows GSA to avoid up-front expenses for infrastructure, buying and operating the equipment – which wasn’t affordable before contract bidding spurred competition and a pay-as-you-go option, according to a GSA source familiar with the contract award, speaking on background.

The source said AT&T would use Cisco telepresence equipment – technology advertised in a television commercial that features elementary school students “meeting” with peers in China.

The virtual centers will be built at each of GSA’s regional offices in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and four headquarters locations in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

"We are being aggressive about virtual work,” Johnson said. “Some private sector companies have been using it and seeing very dramatic results, and we would like very much to see these results ourselves.”

Johnson added that that the telepresence initiative could have wider influence across government. “This is the office of the future for GSA,” she said. “We’re modeling a new kind of workplace.”

The telepresence technology has been used in private industry and the military, but GSA's push is among the first for civilian government agencies, officials said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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