--> Gill Blog: 'Greatest Hits' from Thursday's Congressional Hearing on Teleworking

Gill Blog

Saturday, July 10, 2004

'Greatest Hits' from Thursday's Congressional Hearing on Teleworking

After reading the transcripts of Thursday's hearings, it struck me that the assembled gathering was like an all-star team of teleworking professionals who discussed the issue from a number of perspectives. The primary purpose of the hearings was to determine why teleworking is rolling out at a much slower rate than originally forcast four years ago.

First some context. In October 2000 legislation came down in the form of Section 359 of Public Law 106-346 (P.L. 106-346) mandating a 25% per annum increase in teleworking (among those eligible for telework). Under this formula, the math would determine that in 2005 teleworking adoption would be complete. Not so fast - as of this date 751,844 of 1.8 million federal workers are deemed eligible (i.e. 42% of all federal workers), but only 102,921 (or 14%) have in fact complied. Our calendar tells us that at this point, the figure should have been 75%, or 563,883. The purpose of the hearing was to find out what's taking so long. Clearly, this initial gathering was intended to establish some foundation, and for the most part, speakers provided their views from 40,000 feet. That said, there were some great soundbites that came out of the hearings that resonated with us. Here are a few that stood out:

Locational Factors:
"The innovations of the information age continue to make location less relevant in the working world." Chairman Tom Davis

"September 11...seemed to make absolutely clear our pressing national need for a more distributed and secure workforce" James A. Kane, President and CEO, Software Productivity Consortium

"What we call 'telework' is in fact a key enabler of where we -- as a nation -- need to go: toward the systematic deployment of highly distributed forms of collaboration, where physical location of our workforce matters far less than it does today" Kane
IT Security Concerns:
"Protecting small offices and workers connected to the enterprise network requires the same degree of security as the main entrances...end to end security is critical as remote employees may be opening up unguarded 'back doors' into the corporate network" Stephen R. Du Mont, Vice President, Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco Systems
Management Challenges:
"Many supervisors cling to the antiquated notion that if they cannot see their employees, they must not be working" Chairman Davis

"(the) mobile environment exists outside the control and sight of corporate management; this introduces complexity in remote managing, supporting and applying policies over a network of widely distributed remote access points" Du Mont
There really was some tremendous insight offered during this session. Although it will take some time to really absorb all of it, it seems as though things are moving in a good direction.


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