3 arguments for telework managed services

Managed services offer one way to avoid the network problems that can plague teleworkers, writes Tony Bardo, assistant vice president for government solutions at Hughes.

Tony Bardo is assistant vice president for government solutions at Hughes.

Telework is coming to the federal government. Is your network ready?

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 promises to usher in a new era in the federal government in which the broad adoption of telework is encouraged and working from home or other remote centers is the norm for eligible teleworkers. Now that President Barack Obama has signed the bill, the clock is ticking. Within 180 days, agencies must establish a telework policy, determine which employees are eligible and notify employees of their eligibility. Put simply: More federal employees will be connecting from home office networks sooner rather than later.

Here are the top three reasons why federal agencies need a managed networks approach to telework.

1. It provides consistent quality of service and security. Agencies' field offices, bureaus and divisions often have different approaches to telework, particularly when it comes to network services. Some agencies provide connectivity, while others ask employees to purchase network services on their own and submit the bill for reimbursement. When working from home offices, agency employees might use a range of service providers and technologies (e.g., broadband, fiber, DSL, cable, dial-up, satellite), which vary in quality of service (e.g., bandwidth capacity, speed, reliability) and security.

With a managed network services approach, agencies could use a single service provider to proactively manage their teleworkers’ various network carriers and seamlessly integrate multiple methods of transport into a single broadband architecture platform, thereby eliminating the security vulnerabilities created by a patchwork of disparate networks. Under this approach, agencies receive a consistent quality of service tailored to their existing architecture and can therefore provide a secure converged, managed broadband network that ensures the delivery of voice, video and data services.

2. It supports more efficient and cost-effective operations. Eliminating government waste and improving accountability are key priorities of the Obama administration, and telework is an important component. In a recent memorandum on accountable government, White House officials noted the importance of telework in helping agencies eliminate the waste of excess or underutilized real property. The memo also references IT modernization as a way to eliminate waste, and a managed services approach to telework can play a central role in that. Such an approach enables agencies to address the full scope of costs associated with implementing telework programs to achieve efficiencies and cost savings, while relieving agencies of the administrative burden of billing and service management.

3. It prevents teleworkers from becoming telecom managers. Let’s face it: Sometimes our home networks are unreliable. Once agencies broadly adopt telework, who is going to handle network troubleshooting? Without a managed network, that role will fall to the teleworker, resulting in lost productivity.

Under the Telework Enhancement Act, the Office of Personnel Management has 18 months in which to assess key factors including performance, productivity and emergency readiness and submit reports to Congress, the comptroller general and the Office of Management and Budget. With a managed services approach, teleworkers would have an around-the-clock help desk to assist with network challenges, and that help desk could provide the increased visibility and data needed for those reports.

The Telework Enhancement Act has created a tremendous opportunity to transform the federal workforce and government operations. A managed network services approach is central to success. The federal government must not fall short by failing to consider the strategic importance of network connectivity in achieving the promise of telework.

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