TIGTA's telework success sprouts savings, changes in other IT areas

Monday - 5/5/2014, 6:19am EDT

Ask the CIO

Download mp3

Treasury's Inspector General for Tax Administration has too many printer and copier devices.

Reducing the number of devices is one simple way TIGTA is changing its workforce culture.

"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have many devices for a single experience. In other instances, given the mission of these individuals, sometimes it does make sense to have some level of redundancy built into your capabilities," said George Jakabcin, the chief information officer for Treasury's Inspector General for Tax Administration. "That requires some culture change. That requires some education. That requires some buy-in on the part of the business. We are having the conversations now. We've done the data collection to try to figure out just exactly how many pages, copy and scans did we do in the last year and where do we analyze that. What's the sweet spot for us?"

He said an officewide policy where a ratio of say 10-to-1 of employee to multi- functional device may work well, but there always will be some exceptions for small offices or for people who need more security when printing, copying or scanning.

Jakabcin said the devices are coming up with more security features all the time, where now someone who needs secure printing or copying capabilities can enter their smart identity card into the machine's reader before it will print their specific job.

"We're in the process of re-educating and reintroducing that to our user populations so they know it's a capability," he said. "All of which is a step toward introducing what may be perceived by some as a reduction in the footprint that might not otherwise be well received."

Part of the reason for the printer copier device rationalization is the expansion of telework among TIGTA employees. This is in addition to the cost savings and energy initiatives that already comes from having so many people working remotely.

Jakabcin said almost 85 percent of their workforce is telework authorized, and the entire workforce is enabled if required. This past winter, he said, the multi-Internet and network access points held up well during the snow and ice storms when a majority of TIGTA's employees worked from home or outside the office.

"We are looking at ways to improve the throughput of the user experience so that there is less differentiation between user experience from remote access versus being in the [headquarters office]," he said. "We've already neutralized access as it relates to the [HSPD-12] card. It's identical to when you are in the office. [We are] one of the few organizations to have met the PIV mandate not only for in office, but for remote access as well."

Jakabcin said TIGTA took care of the logical access requirement when it refreshed its laptops in 2012, and the machines are running Microsoft Windows 7.

"We are going to, less than a year from now, start looking at the replacements for the next cycle," he said. "We put these in place on a four-year cycle basis. Being two years in, looking at approximately 18 months out, we will start the planning cycle for the next and have to engage. You can't do these change-outs overnight. It's unclear at this point whether we will move to another laptop environment, whether we move to a bring-your-own-device because of a virtualized experience, or if we will go to some tablets. I believe there is a future for tablets across the enterprise and certainly for some specific locations, specific functions and specific roles and responsibilities where that tablet might be a better choice for some people than a full blown laptop."

Virtualization, consolidation opens the door for more

TIGTA has virtualized about 70 percent of its servers — up from 50 percent in 2011 — and has consolidated much of its enterprise infrastructure into two main data centers.

Jakabcin said virtualization also opens the door to wireless connections for the laptops. TIGTA tested the wireless network and moved into a production environment, which now lets employees connect into the network from anywhere under certain circumstances.

"It has turned out to be a tremendous efficiency boost for our workforce. It has improved our user experience from the standpoint of getting closer and closer to that anytime and anywhere type of environment," he said. "So we are very pleased with that. It has gone very well for us. Our testing was superior. We just went through our certification and accreditation for the Federal Information Security Management Act, and our tester said they couldn't get in."

Jakabcin said TIGTA is now considering what all of these initiatives mean from a mobile environment. He said the agency traditionally has been a BlackBerry shop and will continue to be from an infrastructure standpoint because the new technology does allow them to manage other devices.

TIGTA is analyzing what those other devices could be and how the transition could work.

RELATED STORIES:

TIGTA upgrading network to handle new mobile requirements

Mobile telework create potential savings , increase productivity at agencies