In late May, the Obama Administration announced its Digital Government Strategy for the 21st Century, a 12-month action plan designed to make government information and services accessible to citizens anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Implementation of the strategy requires agencies to take specific actions that may change organizational policies, culture, and technologies to move toward a more information-driven approach that is open, streamlined, customer-centric, and secure.
IT officials at Federal agencies are moving forward rapidly to assess the overall impact that the new initiative will have on overall operations and specific programs, and agencies are beginning to figure out how to implement the requirements.
To understand how the Digital Government Strategy is affecting agencies, including telework programs and existing mobility plans, The Teleworker turned to the Department of Energy (DoE) and Donald Adcock, its associate chief information officer for Energy Information Technology Services, for his perspectives on this dynamic strategy.
Q: How are you and others at the DoE preparing for the impact of the new Digital Government Strategy?
A: We are expanding the infrastructure to support a virtual workforce that will enable the department employees to have the option to work wherever they need to be. In support of that, we are exploring different hardware options, like tablets and netbooks, and providing software that enables people to get access to their email, calendar, and all their data, allowing accessibility and seamless work mobility from one place to another. We also are working on a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy that we plan to issue later this year.
Q: What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges in implementing/adjusting to this strategy and what will be the key to successfully addressing those challenges?
A: There is a culture shift that management and staff can make as they move from working in one place to working in any location. From an IT perspective, the challenges in BYOD include everything from addressing the use of social networking to increasing technical support and troubleshooting. Security of the devices also is important, especially since they are easier to lose. With an ever-increasing variety of devices people can use, keeping on top of the potential security risks will be a challengethat we will continue to address.
Q: What benefits do you think this strategy will have for the DoE mobile workers/teleworkers in their efficiency, work quality, or productivity?
A: The benefits of allowing people to use the enabled technology span from more work/life balance to increased productivity from the workforce. This approach allows people to work the way they are used to and in the way they are most comfortable.
Q: What are some steps that you are taking to begin to adhere to this new strategy?
A: One example is that we are increasing our unified communications and collaboration capabilities. This allows users to work with and interact with each other no matter where they are and permits them to be as productive as they are from their traditional desks. Also, expanded use of Wi-Fi allows for greater mobility and enhanced access.
Q: What do think the significance of this new strategy will be as agencies transition to carrying out their tasks with a more mobile/flexible workforce?
A: The long-term impact is a Federal government ready for the next generation workforce. Our job within the Office of the Chief Information Officer is to enable the mission of the Department of Energy, and we have to be proactive in looking at what trends are coming to ensure success overall.