7:32 am, February 28, 2015

Telework News

OPM's Berry shares lessons learned from snowstorm

OPM Director John Berry discusses how the agency is using last week's snowstorm as a lesson in dealing with this week's bad weather.

Tuesday - 02/01/2011, 05:17pm EST

Causey: Telework is great, except when...

Mike Causey outlines some of the hurdles to telework.

Tuesday - 02/01/2011, 03:00pm EST

D.C. feds can take unscheduled leave, telework on Wednesday

With a forecast that calls for freezing rain Tuesday night, OPM has announced that feds in the D.C. area have the option to take unscheduled leave or telework on Wednesday, for the second day in a row.

Tuesday - 02/01/2011, 01:26pm EST

OPM: D.C. feds can take unscheduled telework, leave on Tuesday

The Office of Personnel Management is giving feds the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework on Tuesday due to an approaching storm. OPM says federal employees should talk to their managers now and make plans. OPM also says there is a chance of a delayed arrival on Tuesday if conditions dictate. Federal News Radio will keep you updated with the latest information.

Tuesday - 02/01/2011, 07:00am EST

How 'Bout Now?

Teleworkers can occasionally get a leg up on getting out the door.

Monday - 01/31/2011, 02:06am EST

Did feds' early dismissal contribute to gridlock?

WTOP's Adam Tuss and WFED's Mike Causey assess OPM's call to call an early dismissal Wednesday and a late arrival Thursday due to snow.

Thursday - 01/27/2011, 02:36pm EST

POLL: How long did it take you to get home?

Following Wednesday evening's heavy snow fall, Federal News Radio is polling feds on how much the weather affected their commute.

Thursday - 01/27/2011, 12:11pm EST

OPM: Thundersnow, human nature created traffic mess

The speed of Wednesday's snowstorm and the fact that some federal employees didn't heed the two-hour dismissal collided to form a "perfect storm" of gridlock on the roads, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry tells Federal News Radio. Berry says he always makes decisions on the operating status of the government by considering the safety of federal employees and how to maintain operations of the federal government to the greatest extent possible.

Thursday - 01/27/2011, 10:50am EST

Two hour delay for federal employees to dig out

Federal employees in the Washington D.C. area have some extra time, if needed, to get to work this morning. The Office of Personnel Management announced a two-hour delay for those feds after snow and ice blanketed the area last night. The Baltimore Federal Executive Board has announced that agencies under its purview are closed.

Thursday - 01/27/2011, 06:05am EST

Snowstorms Inspire Telework Talk

Every time it snows in Washington people in high places rediscover the joys of teleworking. So what are the odds you will be working from home in the next couple of years? Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says don't sell your car just yet.

Thursday - 01/27/2011, 04:00am EST

Telework is about to change your agency

The recent passage of the Telework Enhancement Act substantially changes the status of telework throughout government. But how? We get details from Dr. Scott Overmyer, author of a new study.

Monday - 01/24/2011, 10:31am EST

'What, me worry' Teleworkforce

When feds walk out the door, sometimes security goes out the window.

Monday - 01/24/2011, 05:00am EST

VTC Opens New Hailing Channels Between Congress and Military Field Commanders

Amidst all the other turbulence on Capitol Hill last year, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) was renovating - on a scale not seen in over fifty years. That project brought two hearing rooms into the twenty-first century, replacing bare-bones 1960-vintage microphones and equipment with state-of-the-art audio and video systems. This new gear provided the Committee with greatly-improved capability to broadcast hearings and markups, and added new powerful features as well. The new setup includes multi-function touch screens for members at their places on the dais, which lets them follow Floor action, quickly access PowerPoint, memos and documents presented during hearings, get messages, and pull up additional reference materials. But the biggest change is the new video teleconferencing built into the system. "Tandberg CODEC gear with multipoint capabilities can be routed to these Committee rooms as required. The House of Representatives' Recording Studio coordinates all our inbound and outbound broadcast and teleconference requirements ," explained a senior committee staffer who spoke with us on background. "That now allows HASC Members to speak directly with forward-deployed military units or commanders as the situation might require." Staff are confident that use of this VTC capability will increase as a complement to Congressional Delegation (CODEL) field trips. "On a VTC, you can talk to a few people and a couple of field commanders. When members go on CODELS, they talk to hundreds of people, from generals to field specialists. VTC can't replace that spontaneous interaction, but it does mean that, in an urgent situation or on very short notice, the members can speak face-to-face with forward-deployed commanders who might not otherwise be easily accessible, or are too far away to travel easily and quickly to Capitol Hill." All 62 committee members can access the system at once, but it can also be used by just one or two at time. "The members are still getting used to new technologies, but with every election cycle the HASC - members as well as staff -- get more comfortable with using these new capabilities."

Sunday - 01/23/2011, 06:36pm EST

Mike Causey on USPS, unions

Mike discusses the federal telework policy and if it's been used in the bad weather.

Tuesday - 01/18/2011, 03:00pm EST

POLL: Are you a weather wimp?

Tuesday - 01/18/2011, 12:45pm EST

Weather delays federal government opening

Snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain combine to delay opening federal agencies in the Washington, DC area. The Office of Personnel Management has announced a two hour delayed arrival this morning for employees, who also have the option to take unscheduled leave or telework.

Tuesday - 01/18/2011, 07:13am EST

VTC : Vital to CECOM's Everyday Support For Warfighters

CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) is part of Army Materiel Command (AMC). Lately, it's been on the move-- and supported more than ever by video teleconferencing. Since 2008, CECOM been making a massive migration of its headquarters from Ft Monmouth, NJ to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). VTC is critical for CECOM to stay connected with its 8,500-strong team -- including both the 50% of that team based outside HQ or forward deployed, supporting seven regional Army field support brigades as well as warfighting units in the field. "For the last 2-3 years, video teleconferencing has enabled us to operate effectively in a 'split-based operation' during the BRAC transition," said Ed Thomas, Deputy to the Commanding General, CECOM. "And it gives us this amazing connection from APG right to the front lines of the battlefield." New location means new equipment. By the end of 2011, CECOM will have VTC conferencing hardwired into 13 conference rooms at APG. "The gear being installed by CACI will be IP based with ISDN as a backup capability. In addition, we will USE Defense Connect On-Line and Microsoft Communication Software for desktop VTC capability," said Patricia O'Connor, CIO for CECOM LCMC. "VTC supports a more effective exchange of information that means faster turnaround for mission support." CECOM participates in three major weekly VTC meetings. First, there's a CECOM worldwide operations update, to review the work we're doing in support of the warfighter, and track the supply and maintenance issues. Second, AMC holds its weekly VTC across 30-40 nodes including seven regional support commands, along with subordinate commands like CECOM and its counterparts in aviation, missiles and tanks. The third is the weekly depot maintenance production reviews -- a big part of making sure equipment get overhauled and back to the troops. "After there's an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, it's important for us to see what happened to the vehicle that was attacked and how the IED was detonated. Our engineers and scientists can get a better understanding of the operational needs and valuable information to engineer better solutions," said Thomas. "We also use VTC within CECOM for General Strong's staff calls, to connect our people at Tobyhanna, PA, Ft Monmouth, Ft Hood, Ft Huachuca, and Ft Belvoir. There's clear cost savings associated with it; often we're able to effectively conduct a meeting or conference without having to travel."

Monday - 01/17/2011, 12:38pm EST

Six quick tips for the first time teleworker

Welcome to telework, Mister First Nighter! Six quick tips on how to make that first telework snowday a success.

Monday - 01/17/2011, 04:00am EST

Patent and Trademark Office Rolls Out Nationwide Desktop VTC This March

A big move is coming in 2011 to implement more nimble, flexibly-configurable video teleconferencing solutions at the Pentagon's Warfighter Capability Demonstration Center (WarCap).

In an average month, the WarCap's VTC team supports one major exercise, and two or three demonstrations of emerging technology, and many smaller-scale events. End users and subject matter experts join in classified and unclassified briefings and conversations with top military leaders.

"Warfighters themselves can talk to the leadership. Guys on the floor of an Air Operations Center brief capability of the technology and its value -- or lack thereof." Anna Santos de Dios, Director of the Air Force's Warfighter Capability Demonstration Center told us more. "Using VTC for exercises lets us bring the field experience right into the Pentagon. Senior decision-makers based here, who may lack the time or budget travel to event, can get in one room or on the same call, and bounce ideas around about what they've just seen."

The WarCap has three VTC options.

  • DISN VIDEO SERVICES GLOBAL (DVSG) uses Tandberg systems to link multiple sites but each participating site is a fixed conference room and must be equipped with DSVG-specific hardware. AT&T schedules the VTC and allocates bandwidth.
  • Internet-Protocol (IP)-Based VTC is about to get a lot more popular. This approach connects two points theirusing a Tandberg MXP-IP coder/decoder (cCodec) or similar gear (like the Polycom VSE-7000) on the exercise network. 

"Even some guy in the field with a webcam and internet access can be on the call," said Santos de Dios. "We've had guys doing VTC's standing next to their HUMVEE's talking about how systems perform, and that's much more powerful and memorable, than someone briefing from a PowerPoint."

    But the WarCap wanted the flexibility to arrange those calls itself, to multiple points, and do it more quickly. The WarCap's senior NCO colloborated with the office's SAIC support team to come up with the solution. By 2011, General Dynamics IT and its subcontractor, PPI, will have installed a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU), the Tandberg MCU-4150 to improve service by decreasing scheduling lead times.
  • Defense Connect Online (DCO), a web-based VTC system, is the low end: just an invitation via URL weblink plus a USB-plug-in web cam, and you're good to go. It's a good solution for informal meetings and document sharing, or linking sites without higher resolution options.
"The people we support -- those running exercises, and those advocating more resources for work in the field -- feel that VTC helps them reach audiences they wouldn't have access to any other way. "The senior leadership appreciates the opportunity to see exercises or evaluate technologies without disrupting their schedules with additional travel. The big challenge is that, with constant turnover in personnel that's simply part of military life, we always have to keep educating people that this resource is available, so we're always doing outreach about the WarCap's VTC capabilities."
  • Traditional two-way conference-room-based VTC, to communicate with Embassies, patent offices and other federal agencies. That's deployed via about 6 large conference rooms that hold several dozen people.
  • Today, for peer to peer interaction within PTO; later this year, PTO expects to offer applicants for patents and trademarks the option to discuss their applications with examiners via videoteleconference, too.
  • Broadcast events, both within the agency for internal meetings and education as well as for consultations and working groups with PTO's customers and the public. An auditorium that seats over 300 people and offers PTO multiple camera angles and full video production capability.
  • CISCO's hardware and software dominate PTO's VTC technology. That includes Tandberg equipment in dedicated videoteleconference rooms, and the suite of CISCO desktop software, including WEBEX, all running on CISCO's networks and expanding bandwidth.

    Big changes are afoot. Starting in March, Owens and his team roll out a massive technology upgrade to 10,000 employees and about 5,000 contractors that includes desktop video teleconferencing capability no matter where they work, from headquarters to home offices. The contractor who'll support the implementation has been selected; watch for an announcement of the award soon.

    What will they get? "Brand new secure metal-jacketed HP laptop with Voice-Over-IP, plus a handset and headset. The laptop, telephone, and WEBEX all launch together in March, running Windows's in Beta, and the people that have it in their hands now cannot believe the improvement in quality they experience in their daily work." VTC is a critical capability for communication among PTO's increasingly dispersed workforce. Owens says he's been told to expect the agency's 3,000-strong teleworkforce to grow by over 15% this year.

    What three things would Owens like PTO employees to keep in mind about the new desktop VTC capability?
    • "Be patient and learn to use the technology for what it is.
    • "Provide constructive and timely feedback through the appropriate channels; and
    • "Remember that desktop VTC isn't broadcast television. We have plans to increase our capability and use better tools as they become available, but you're getting the cream of the crop of what's available today."

    Sunday - 01/09/2011, 11:26pm EST
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