than the duration they see them at their desks.

Chopra said he thinks part of the reason the VITA's telework participation is so high is that Virginia moved all of its IT workers last year to a facility 20 miles south of the old Richmond, Va., building. The move created a longer commute for many workers, which made telework more attractive.

Chopra said the process hasn't required dramatic changes to employee and manager interactions. Some telework advocates recommend equipping remote employees with Web cameras and other communication devices. But Virginia's current IT workers adjusted well to telework using BlackBerrys and e-mail, Chopra said.

Beyond the green benefits, telework and flexible work hours will play a critical role in attracting young IT workers, according to Mitzi Higashidani, chief deputy director of the California Department of Technology Services.

"They may work at 3 a.m. because that's when they're awake. Perhaps their highest performance and creativity peak is at that time," Higashidani said.

She said California's purchasing habits are already reflecting the move to telework.

"We're retooling. We are no longer buying desktops. Everybody who shows up to work is going to get a laptop and a phone. Work is going to happen through Web conferencing. Some managers expect you to show up to meetings, but you don't have to see the person for it to be a personal experience," Higashidani said. "When the work force moves out and becomes mobile and flexible, you have to stay in touch more through phones and other tools. Blogs, wikis and similar technologies will be the way this work force works. Baby boomers are slow in adopting that."

She added that California is developing a security strategy to make telework possible. Currently telework happens on a limited basis, said Semmes.

"There is no overall telework policy. It's done department by department, which is common sense because it gives managers flexibility," Semmes said.

Almighty Data Center

Government data center consolidation is now commonplace across the country. For instance, Texas is midway through a massive outsourced consolidation effort, reducing 5,500 physical servers down to 1,300. The project also will cut 15 mainframes to six. Much of the consolidation is powered by virtualization technology, which has become increasingly popular.

Texas pursued consolidation to cut costs and reduce the staff it needed to maintain IT. The resultant green benefit was not a primary motivation, but it came in handy when selling the project to the Texas Legislature, said Lara Coffer, technology center operations division director for the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR).

IBM won the outsourcing contract. The consolidation will centralize IT management and eliminate redundant functions.

"We have duplicate systems. For example, everybody's running their own e-mail systems. Everybody's running their own domain name systems," Coffer said.

Coffer said she prefers to advocate those green initiatives that are side benefits to projects that serve other state needs. The DIR used the green component of its consolidation to sell it to the Legislature.

"There are so many people who think of green as building out of materials that are recyclable. What I've really seen that can give you the most cost-effective benefits are simple green initiatives, like energy-efficient equipment and consolidation," Coffer said.

Servers in the new data center use direct current (DC) technology, which is about 12 percent more efficient than the more common alternating current (AC) server technology, according to DC Power for Improved Data Center Efficiency, a report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The new data center also uses sophisticated cooling technology that enables the facility to cool servers while using less power, said Coffer.

Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.