videoconference (MicroOne/

Cloud powers newly mission-critical teleconferencing apps

As COVID-19 forces government to shift employees to remote work, agencies are also rapidly adapting to new collaborative applications. However, the impact of those tools on security and efficiency is just beginning to be understood.

Over the past 18 months, the shift to cloud at the Defense Information Systems Agency has been accelerating, but demands related to COVID are pushing things even faster, DISA’s Chief of Cloud Services John Hale said.

"We shifted to online teleconferencing faster than anticipated, using commercial virtual remote applications," Hale said at a virtual event hosted by GovExec. "That shifted the demand signal" at the agency. "What used to be 'nice-to-have,' is now ingrained as mission critical."

The Government Accountability Office’s experience with transitioning to remote work has been similar, and it is already feeling pressure to evolve the remote capabilities it has rolled out, said Vijay D'Souza, GAO’s director of IT and cybersecurity.

"We deployed a new videoconferencing system before" the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, and maximum telework has "put that to the test," pumping up demand from GAO employees. Although the existing capabilities "are light years ahead" of what the agency was using, the agency is finding "it's not enough," said D'Souza.

Younger workers long familiar with video chats and applications on their own devices are looking for similar capabilities from the agency, he said.

 D'Souza also said that GAO saw a 130% increase last fall in the use of the General Services Administration's Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program cloud security assessment program.

As agencies move to cloud, they are getting a better grasp that the responsibility to secure their data is not up to the cloud provider, according to D'Souza. "Agencies have to understand that [security] is split between the provider and agency," he said.

GAO is taking a cross-government look at how agencies are using collaborative IT to facilitate a remote workforce in response to the pandemic. That report, he said, should be out "in the next few months."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected