The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

Storms Show Need for Telework Policy

Storms Show Need for Telework Policy

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Call Rob Carey "lucky."

The Navy chief information officer was attending a naval conference in 65-degree San Diego earlier this month when he heard of an impending snowstorm back home. Carey rushed to catch the redeye back to Washington, beating by hours the blizzard that closed the nation's capital for nearly a week. Some of his unfortunate colleagues found themselves "snowed-in" in the balmy beachside city, unable to fly back east for days. "How awful!" Carey wrote in his blog

Perhaps Carey should have stayed in San Diego, making a case for telework (but I'm getting ahead of myself).

Back home, Carey witnessed the government coming to a near standstill. He wrote:

"The loss in productivity this week was tremendous. But like any major event (natural or otherwise), we should be able to work from dispersed locations. We should be able to stay connected via our laptops and wireless devices so that the time spent away from the office can mean continued support of the department's ongoing mission. But did we continue that support effectively during this recent snowstorm?"

Carey said the Navy has the tools to allow telework, including NMCI - the world-class Navy-Marine Corps Intranet that affords the service branch a great deal of secure connectivity from remote locales. Many employees have wireless devices, air cards and home networks that allow connectivity with colleagues through secure virtual private networks. "It is reasonably easy to connect and engage your colleagues to accomplish work," he blogged.

The Navy CIO then asked series of questions that must be addressed to assure Navy employees can efficiently and securely do their jobs remotely, including:

  • Do we take laptops home each night as a matter of course or only when we are going to work from home?
  • Do all the personnel who need a laptop have one?
  • Do we have access to our data?
  • How much of our processes are paperless?
  • What about the culture issue?
  • When the Office of Personnel Management announces that the federal government is closed and non-essential employees are not required to report to work, does work stop?
  • Should work stop?
  • How akin was this storm to a manmade event, and how well would we be able to serve the sailors and marines at the tip of the spear during such an event?
  • They do not shut down; should we?

Carey concluded:

"It's time to develop the telework community to its fullest as it is similar to the behavior required to stay operational to support our mission.

That's shouldn't just be a Navy or a Defense goal, but one for the entire government.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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