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GSA goes for telework

This was a big week for telework.

First, there was a big announcement from the General Services Administration. GSA Administrator Lurita Doan announced that GSA will have 50 percent of its eligible employees teleworking by 2010.

To be honest, there was some scoffing inside FCW's world headquarters following the announcement, particularly since Doan will be long gone by 2010. But I have to say I love these kinds of goals. To be honest, this seemed to harken back to the 1996 announcement by then-Administrator David Barrum, who at the time said that every GSA employee would have e-mail by Flag Day.

(You've got to read the press release from 1996.

Internet is known as the global communications network and it is being called by many experts the most promising avenue for business in existence today. Through the use of Internet, companies and government agencies worldwide are finding exciting new ways to serve their customers and communicate with each other.

According to recent studies, few people knew what an intranet was six months ago. Now, if a company is not developing its own or using an intranet to improve corporate communications, it is missing out on a tool that could change the way corporations communicate.

Not every GSA employee will need an individual computer to access InSite. According to Joe M. Thompson, GSA's Chief Information Officer, some employees will have access in libraries, cafeterias and warehouses, and others on the desktop." This is an idea that will cut the cost of doing business, bring our products and services to market faster, and leverage the agency's investments," he said.)

I think these kinds of goals are great -- and it is going to be a reach for GSA. Doan listed some of the numbers:

Currently, 4.2 percent of the eligible federal workforce teleworks one or more days each week. At GSA, our current figure is a little higher, but it’s still only 10 percent. I want that figure to be 20 percent by the end of 2008. I want it to be 40 percent by the end of 2009. And by 2010, I want 50 percent of all eligible GSA employees to telework one or more days each week. That’s 20 percent by the end of next year, 40 percent by the end of 2009, and 50 percent by 2010. It won’t be easy. But the leaders of GSA have already proven they are capable of extraordinary achievements, no matter the odds.

Doan was on Federal News Radio's Morning Drive this morning. You can hear her talk about this issue for yourself here.

I hope GSA offers up lessons learned for others, because there are some real issues. We're going to try and assess some of those in an issue of FCW coming up.

One came from the Justice Department, which is telling employees that they can't do business on home computers.

Justice says no to private PCs for telework

Because of security concerns, the Justice Department now forbids all employees from using their private PCs or digital assistants to access agency e-mail or other files, the department's top information security officer has said.

Previously, some Justice Department employees had been allowed to use their private personal computers for e-mailing, said Dennis Heretick, the Justice Department’s chief information security officer. Instead, the agency wants employees who telework or work at remote locations to use government-issued laptops, docking stations or Blackberries.

Unlike employees' personal devices, Justice can ensure that government-issued systems are fully encrypted and monitored.

“My very strong recommendation is not to allow people to use home computers to telecommute unless you don’t care about the security of the information they’re working with,” said Heretick, speaking at the 2007 Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting on Sept. 12.

We at the 1105 Government Information Group have been implementing telework. When FCW's parent company, 1105 Media, purchased PostNewsweek Tech Media (GCN, WT, FOSE, etc.), there were a number of people who saw FCW's headquarters in Falls Church, Va. as teetering on the edge of the Earth. (I don't know if you remember that cover of The New Yorker where the rest of the world is in the distance. Well, Falls Church doesn't even make the map.)

After all, GCN has its roots in Maryland. GCN's world headquarters was in Silver Spring, Md. for years until PostNewsweek moved them to a great location near Capitol Hill. So there were a lot of really good people who worked in Maryland, some distance from FCW's headquarters. We had to come up with a way to keep good people without making people drive hours in horrible DC traffic to get to work. So we are usingtelework.

In my next post, some lessons that we've learned... and some things we still have to get done.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Sep 14, 2007 at 12:17 PM


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