OJP kick starts workplace initiative with wireless network launch

Thursday - 3/20/2014, 5:52pm EDT

Angel Santa, deputy CIO, Office of Justice programs

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The Office of Justice Programs is responding to recent employee requests for a wireless network and other mobile capabilities. And it's only through recent network upgrades can OJP confidently give its employees what they want.

Angel Santa, the deputy chief information officer in the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs, said the goal is to support its workforce whether they are teleworking, on the road or in the office.

"It's a major effort and something that is part of a workspace initiative OJP is undertaking," he said. "It's a good thing to do. It just requires a lot of effort. We have to look at mobile device management. We have to look at virtual desktop interface (VDI). We implemented VDI and now how do we implement it internally? Our initial implementation was externally, so you could utilize VDI to get to your desktop functionality so how do you get that inside the house when they are here working? So there's a lot to it."

Santa said OJP has no wireless infrastructure currently, but eventually the goal is to implement one and let users log onto it no matter what device they are using. He said it's one step toward offering a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) option.

"If we have guests come over, the initial thought is someone would sponsor these guests and they could use their mobile devices also," he said.

OJP plans to release a solicitation for mobility services and support in the coming weeks or so.

Part of the BYOD is the development of internal VDI capability for employees who bring their own smartphone or tablet computers. Santa said he hopes the internal VDI will simplify how employees can securely access the network without having to go through so many steps. He said initially the demand for mobility wasn't there. But with the workplace initiative, employees' viewpoints changed.

"There's a high demand for mobility, building native apps or what have you," he said. "That's something we are looking forward to in the future. Right now, we are advising in that area, but we will be providing that service in the coming months."

Along with VDI and mobile devices, Santa said the Office of Justice Programs also is putting in place a common Web platform based on Microsoft SharePoint 2013.

"What that will be used for as we go forward in the coming weeks and months, websites will be migrated over onto that common platform where we have templates. We end up with cost savings and being able to reuse a lot of the efforts we've put in place."

Santa said OJP also is teaming with other Justice Department bureaus on shared services for potentially email in the cloud and grants management.

He said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is leading the Justice-wide effort for taking the "best of breed" email service and expanding it to other bureaus.

Santa said OJP's email system is more than sufficient and features several important capabilities.

"We are on Exchange 2010 and our email is pretty robust. It currently has deduplication technology so that when you have an attachment, you just have one copy of that attachment no matter how many addressees you have and makes it available," he said. "We also implemented automated archiving and retrieval as part of our email system."

Santa said OJP also upgraded its grants management system a few years ago, and now is exploring its options for shared services — both internally at Justice and externally with other federal providers.

The grants management system upgrade came at the same time OJP improved its network backbone, which set the path for many of these new initiatives and other capabilities such as voice-over-IP and video conferencing.

"When we implement something, we always are forward thinking about how we can take advantage of it down the line," Santa said.

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