While larger Federal government agencies had the resources necessary to facilitate a shift to large-scale telework earlier this year, some smaller agencies had a more difficult time mounting similar efforts, a State Department official said at a Dec. 9 AFCEA Bethesda webinar.

“Over the course of the whole pandemic, the smaller and [micro-agencies] had to be very innovative because of the fact they had to do a lot more with less,” Alen Kirkorian, division chief for Innovative Strategy and Security for the State Department, said.

Prior to the pandemic, many smaller agencies were not as well prepared for the coming reality of telework, Kirkorian explained, and had more work to do reevaluating their existing contracts and setting up new ones to deal with the change. Now that the work is done, Kirkorian said he expects many agencies to maintain those tech changes going forward.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) was one agency that had to cover more ground to implement telework, said its Chief Information Security Officer Andrea Simpson at the AFCEA event. Having previously worked for the telework-ready Corporation for National and Community Service, Simpson observed a big difference when the FCC had to pivot.

“Historically [the FCC] was not in an environment where telework was a normal process. It was a very limited process,” Simpson said. “With this continuous shift, the thing I see staying within [the FCC] is the ability for individuals to telework.”

However, rather than the agency providing laptops to sustain telework into the future, Simpson envisions a bring-your-own-device system of telework for the agency, which poses its own set of cybersecurity questions.

“That’s going to be the challenge going forward,” she said. “How do we gain control, from a security standpoint on individuals that are going to be working from home on a permanent basis, or at least more than they had in the past, and have the ability to control that?”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.