The U.S. Air Force (USAF) wants to build on its current transformational period, catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, to accelerate change and position the military to win, and the service branch’s CIO spoke on June 8 about tech strategies that the Air Force and the Defense Department are putting in place to get to that goal.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made all levels of government radically change how they operate. From shifting their workforce to telework to delivering government services digitally, Federal, state, and local governments have had to pivot the way they work, while still delivering on their mission.

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capitol washington dc senate house congress-min

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., 20 Democratic senators plus Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged leadership to include maximum telework provisions for Federal employees and contractors in the next coronavirus relief package.

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Across the board, Federal agencies have made a massive shift to telework in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, agencies are beginning to look at how to safely bring employees back to worksites. While the Department of Defense (DoD) is taking a slow, phased approach, leadership is grappling with whether the culture of increased telework is here to stay.

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Veterans Affairs

As the COVID-19 pandemic made it increasingly difficult for veterans to access in-person healthcare services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) quickly scaled its existing telehealth capabilities to accommodate more patients. Now, per several VA officials, the agency is planning to continue investments in and accessibility to its virtual health services even after the pandemic winds down.

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US tech

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it is working to re-open agency offices in accordance with Phase 1 of the White House’s Opening Up America Again plan, although office re-opening schedules are expected to vary based on a number of factors.

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EPA Environmental Protection Agency

As some Federal offices begin looking ahead toward reopening when the COVID-19 pandemic slows, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still largely pushing for maximum telework despite its rolling plan to reopen, an agency spokesperson confirmed to MeriTalk.

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State Department

The Department of State has been monitoring local conditions in the D.C.-metro area during the Coronavirus pandemic, with the expectation of entering Phase I of Diplomacy Strong today.

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COVID-19

Nearly three months since Federal agencies were directed to maximize telework, Federal CIOs at a June 11 ATARC virtual conference talked about what the telework experience may mean for the IT workforce of the future – and how agencies may balance newfound efficiencies with the need for human interaction in the workplace.

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CDM Central - Government Keynote - Grant Schneider

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program has been a key tool for managing cybersecurity risks since Federal employees began maximum telework in March by helping to maintain situational awareness on networks, said Federal CISO Grant Schneider at MeriTalk’s CDM Central: Tales from the Frontlines digital event today.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has driven Federal agencies to leap to maximum telework capacity on short notice. While many were able to kick telework into high gear in only a matter of days because of previous or ongoing IT modernization investments, the requirement to change fast and on the fly underscores the vital need for modernization – in the case of a pandemic or not.

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DoD Pentagon Military
Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – largely because of its broad, hands-on healthcare mission – is not the type of Federal agency that can transform to near 100 percent telework. But that didn’t stop the agency from more than tripling its telework capacity to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, said agency CIO James Gfrerer during a May 28 AFCEA Bethesda webinar event.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Federal IT operations are providing a resilient fabric that enables accelerated delivery of vital services to citizens during an unprecedented public health crisis. As government IT operations reach their new steady-state and map the path to further modernization, MeriTalk is surfacing the untold stories – and lessons – of those efforts. In the latest installment of CIO Crossroads, we examine the Labor Department’s performance eight weeks into the fray.

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telework

The CIOs of the Agriculture (USDA) and Transportation (DoT) Departments said today that workforce productivity trends have been stable or improved since both agencies turned to large-scale telework in March to combat spread of COVID-19.

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EPA Environmental Protection Agency

Recounting how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a quick jump to 96 percent telework during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, agency CIO Vaughn Noga explained today how partnerships with other offices and a new approach to emerging tech helped fuel the fast transition. And he urged tech practitioners not to forget lessons learned over the past three months as they transition to the next phase of new normal.

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has had a 900 percent increase in the use of Teams, Microsoft’s collaboration platform, and a 483 percent increase in the use of virtual private networks during the COVID-19 pandemic, a DHS official said.

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VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Board of Veterans’ Appeals is making access to virtual hearings available to all veterans, according to a May 1 press release.

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The National Security Agency (NSA) released a guide on April 24 to help Federal agencies make decisions about which collaboration and video chat services to use during telework, as the government continues to adjust to mass telework orders.

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