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Keeping the Department of Defense Running Smoothly with Telepresence

June 15, 2011
at 11:59 am PST

We’ve talked about how telepresence can bring therapy to those in need, and it turns out the technology may help calm the nerves of another suffering group of people: some federal employees.

As part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative, the Defense Department (DoD) has begun to move 123,000 employees to new office facilities. The moves profoundly change the personnel composition of more than 8,000 bases across the country, and it costs more than $35 billion. According to a survey by Federal News Radio, 49 percent of the 468 respondents do not think the consolidation will improve collaboration amongst the affected DoD and military offices, civilian agencies, and contractors. Conversely, they see mounting problems with communication, commute, employee satisfaction, and training.

Fortunately, for federal workers impacted by these changes, there is a technology currently deployed within DoD and Civilian agencies that can alleviate much of the stress of these foreshadowed issues.  Telepresence and video communications can facilitate real time interaction with Pentagon offices, which are no longer easily accessible by displaced workers, removing the potential for BRAC to “greatly disrupt” the relationship among offices, as one respondent feared would happen.   Likewise, telepresence technology can make teleworking more effective and efficient, providing the “face time” several employees expressed concern about losing, while still allowing them to be an integral part of the conversation.

The benefits keep multiplying. Keeping employees connected in real time boosts morale, makes everyone feel invested in the day-to-day operation of the bases, and makes possible the mentor/mentee relationships some respondents said would be lost.

With budgets and government downsizing hot button issues right now, it’s a solution the feds can’t afford to overlook.

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3 Comments.


  1. I’m really not surprised by the survey from the FNR. Working in the Federal government sector has allowed me to be conscious of the problems with already big agencies try to consolidate anything even more than it is already consolidated. And yes, I agree that many of the problems are more related to human problems and not technology ones!

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    • Kerry Best

      Thanks for the response, Joe. The exciting part is that technology, if used properly, can actually help solve the human problems!

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  2. Hi Kerry,

    I’m totally excited about that fact as well. The issue I see in my line of work is that too often the technology becomes the solution, without solving the underlying human issues that are just beneath the surface. A combination of social and technological prowess is the best way to solve issues of the “Human Network”.

    Interestingly, I’m one of those people who comes from a technical background and transitioned into a social career, and so maybe my perspective is biased, but I honestly feel that left brain and right brain related sciences (social vs. tech) are most effective when combined.

    Still, I heart your article and your views! :)

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