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Agencies can take a lesson from the General Services Administration's newly announced telepresence plan aimed at saving money and the earth.
GSA discussed recently their $18 million plan to build what they call virtual meeting centers within 11 of regional headquarters offices and four headquarters offices in the Washington-metro area.
Agencies with their own telepresence capabilities can interoperate with the new GSA virtual centers with the proper technical set up. Bob Lesino, GSA spokesman tells InformationWeek, agencies need to be able to deliver and receive 1080p video resolution and support H.323/H.264.
The idea behind telepresence moves video teleconferencing to another level. GSA touts the technology behind the centers, boasting "live, face-to-face, immersive meeting experiences." Each room is expected to have high-definition video and advanced audio equipment.
"You will feel like you are making eye contact [with the other person], [you will] feel like you are sitting across the table from them, almost as if you can pass the person a cup of coffee, " said Martha Johnson, GSA administrator. "As the federal government's workplace solutions expert, GSA is exploring new ways to create a more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable government for the American people. This includes incorporating innovative and collaborative technologies like virtual meeting centers to create seamless connections around the world. Availability of virtual meeting technology will help launch our government to the next level of productivity."
The goal is for GSA to become a model for technologies that enable a mobile workforce, she added.
The whole point of telepresence is to make it easier to get the job done. And saving time and money is part of that equation.
"The cost of travel is not just the price of a plane ticket. You have to factor in the sheer wear and tear of travel on people, " said Johnson.
The centers will be available for use by all agencies at a fixed hourly rate. The network will let any subscribing agency meet with counterparts in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, as well as with counterparts in other telepresence networks nationally and internationally.
The centers will also be made available to stateside military families so that they can meet virtually with service members overseas.
AT&T will develop and manage the virtual network through a task order under GSA's Networx Enterprise contract. Once the network is operational, agencies will be able to order and schedule virtual meeting sessions through a secure Web portal as well as through a valet that will be available around the clock.
Johnson said the first of the virtual meeting centers will be operational in early 2011.
The White House reiterated its strong support of flexible workplace arrangements -- which includes telework.
Faster, smaller, hipper, and even more efficient, teleworkers are morphing into mobile workers.
Administrator Martha Johnson said changes in the way people work and the technology they have access to are major reasons why GSA will no longer guarantee a specific number of workers at the area telecenters. GSA remains committed to telework in other ways, including the launch of a new collaboration platform called FedSpace. It also awarded a contract to deploy telepresence at 15 offices around the country.
The DorobekINSIDER asked about telework lessons learned from GSA's Mike Brinks, Regional Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service in Kansas City, Missouri; and Ellen Upchurch, Supervisory Contract Specialist with the Centers for Facilities, Maintainance and Hardware.
As part of a huge move, DISA finds little things can mean the most. To keep just a few feds on the job, a new classified telework center is in the works. We get details from DISA's Jack Penkoske.
Telework may well be the wave of the future, but you need to be positioned to catch that wave.
Lightweight Portable Security for secure home connections can allow workers to telework.
The ability to telework is subtly moving from "want to" to "have to."
Sandra Gurvis, author of the Handbook for Managing Telework, joined the DorobekINSIDER to discuss the five steps to successfully managing teleworkers.
Agencies are testing an assortment of smartphones and tablet computers to improve how their workforces meet their missions. But there still are questions about the security of these devices.
On this Columbus Day, the DorobekINSIDER brings you the best recent stories we think are worth another listen.
Telework proves itself again when a Continuity of Operations Plan comes together.
The Office of Personnel Management is extending its Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE, pilot through 2011. Justin Johnson, deputy chief of staff at OPM, told Federal News Radio's Jason Miller about OPM's decision to extend the program and how the ROWE pilot is going to date.
Tight security measures both tighten the leashes of executives, while driving them out of the office.
The bill now awaits House approval
Both employee unions and agencies say certain phrases in President Obama's executive order creating these committees need to be better defined. VA deputy secretary Gould will lead an effort to bring some precision to terms such as pre-decisional, to make sure everyone is working from the same sheet of paper. National Council on Federal-Labor Management Relations also details first set of bargaining pilots, called B-1.
The private sector and Congress are showing wide support for federal telework.
Like other agencies, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has released its agency sustainability plan. Unlike the others, telework plays a major part in the plan.
Legislation is waiting for Congress to come back to work.