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Interoperability key for meeting federal mandates

January 19, 2010 - 2 Comments

The Obama administration is pushing agencies to begin insourcing jobs by bringing them back to government employees and relying less on outside vendors. The OMB is reaching out to agencies to help them appropriately understand and handle a directive that appears at face-value to be a complete about-face from the previous administration.

The administration is pushing for insourcing for many reasons. First, there is a perception, warranted or not, that outsourcing jobs is wasteful and expensive, and that agencies can be handling governmental tasks at a savings to the American taxpayer. Insourcing is also being heralded as a way of increasing collaboration among agencies and creating a tighter-knit and interconnected system where government employees work closely together.

However , there are some issues arising from this new directive for insourcing. One is the misinterpretation among agencies that they’re being asked to stop outsourcing altogether and bring all jobs in house. Another problem is directly tied to human resources and hiring. Insourcing will bring many jobs back to government agencies who are already missing tens of thousands employees in mission-critical positions, according to this year’s Where the Jobs Are report from the Partnership for Public Service.

The other problem lies in the directive for agencies to work closer together and collaborate across the board. Unfortunately, with agencies making their own purchasing decisions, the networks across agencies are disparate and disconnected. The video teleconferencing (VTC) systems that agencies have been turning to as a way to increase communication and collaboration internally could go a long way towards doing the same for interagency collaboration, but the lack of connected systems remain a roadblock.

This is why interoperability of VTC solutions is so important. Interoperability is essential for allowing disparate networks and VTC solutions to work together. Also, with cyber attack and network security on the minds of all agencies, firewalls and other security measures are often put in place with little to no consideration for video networks. This makes the ability to traverse firewalls essential for both network security and interagency collaboration.

VTC solutions are becoming increasingly popular in federal agencies, and with this directive to insource jobs, they will become even more essential. With the government already straining to fill mission-critical jobs at agencies, and with the government workforce graying and near retirement, flexibility and telework are going to continue to be job benefits necessary to keep aging government employees working and attracting the best talent into public service.

TANDBERG equipment has been the choice of many government agencies in large part for its ability to interoperate with other networks and equipment. By breaking down the walls between government agencies and giving them the means to increase flexibility and retain top talent, TANDBERG is providing a new way of working within the federal government.

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  1. The US Forest Service and other USDA agencies are working together to put in infrastucture to allow secure and easy to use of VTC between internal USDA agencies and agencies outside the USDA. The USDA and Forest Service are currenlty installing Tandberg VCS expressways that will be neighbored together. The VCS expressway’s will also allow the Forest Service to register VTC systems at private organizations, such as Universities, that do business with the Forest Service. In the near future VTC with sites outside the Forest Service should be much easier while yet keeping the Forest Service network secure.

  2. Point about teh VTC is well taken. However, the issue, from an IT standpoint, is that the VTC systems we use in USDA Forest Service (and likely all other federal agencies as well, for security reasons) are on agency servers – firewall protected – so unless you are able to log onto our servers (read, “agency employees only”) then VTC in this fashion still poses obstacles to be conquered.