Agencies get preview of teleworking report

While Congress and agencies await a General Services Administration teleworking report due in April, agencies got an idea of the report's contents at FOSE 2002 in Washington this week.

The full report will include six accounts of technical barriers to teleworking that agencies can expect, along with GSA's ideas on how to overcome them.

'The IT issues are not being dealt with in a centralized manner,' said John McGady, senior associate for Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc., a McLean, Va., consulting firm working with GSA on the study.

McGady said agencies will have to use broadband connectivity instead of dial-up connections, for example.

'It's still very early in the game for telework,' he said at a session titled Technology Barriers and Solutions to Federal Home-based Telework.

Among the problems the report describes are the lack of security at home offices or teleworking centers, difficulty migrating enterprisewide applications to notebook PCs and the rarity of technical support in remote offices.

Marvin Hart, assistant director in the office of the inspector general for tax administration at the Treasury Department, said his agency has created a successful telework program.

Hart said a third of his 1,040 employees telework about one or two days a week, and a smaller percentage work from home or a teleworking center every weekday.

He has leased Dell Computer Corp. notebook PCs, printers and other peripherals for the teleworkers. Each notebook is configured with a firewall and Treasury uses a virtual private network to encrypt data.

'Test out one new technology at a time,' recommended Sharon Terango, senior analyst for customer consulting in the Treasury CIO's office. 'And webify as many applications as you can.'

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