Library of Congress, TIGTA offer telework security lessons

Sunday - 12/11/2011, 11:01pm EST

By Julia Ziegler
Federal News Radio
@jzieglerWFED

The Telework Enhancement Act turned one-year-old on Friday. But, just how far have agencies come and what kinds of lessons can those succeeding at telework offer others? The Library of Congress and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration offered some best practices during a recent Telework Exchange webcast.

Both agencies said security is key to making managers, employees and the government, as a whole, comfortable with telework.

George Jakabcin, the chief information officer for TIGTA, said all teleworkers must go through annual security awareness and privacy awareness training at his agency. They must also renew their telework agreements each year acknowledging their personal obligations for securing data in a telework environment. Jakabcin said all teleworkers at TIGTA also use a virtual private network (VPN) to access agency information from their telework locations.

Baha Akpinar, the telework expansion program manager at the Library of Congress, said his agency established a new laptop core configuration to deal with the security issues that telework can bring. Akpinar said the enhanced security features in the new setup have also been beneficial to non-teleworkers.

Over 500 of the Library's 3,500 employees now telework regularly - about 2-4 days per pay period, according to Akpinar. As for TIGTA, Jakabcin said 83 percent of its employees now participate in the agency's telework program. Of those, 50 percent are teleworking anywhere between 2-5 days per week.

Due to the increase in telework, Jakabcin said TIGTA has also been able to reduce its overall carbon footprint. The agency has closed 15 of its 86 locations and reduced the size of four others.

From a management perspective, Akpinar said for telework to be a success, there must be a level of "trust between supervisor and staff, and among colleagues," which he acknowledged is easier at some agencies. He said training for non-teleworkers on how to interact with their remote colleagues is an important part of his agency's telework plan as well.