Coronavirus: 9 CIOs Explain How They're Enabling Telework

We asked technology leaders at state and local governments across the country what they're using to enable public servants to work without coming into an office. Here's what nine of them said.

by / March 25, 2020
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Philadelphia

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

From Andrew Buss, Deputy CIO for Innovation Management:

1. Has your office supported/been asked to support remote/telework capabilities for your agency or other agencies?

Yes, the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) has been asked to support remote work on behalf of our municipal government. We have been working to ensure that city employees whose work can be performed remotely are equipped with the technology and knowledge to do so.

2. Was that before or after the coronavirus started spreading?

Over the last year or two, the city has been testing remote work through both an enterprise-level policy as well as individual agency policies. The enterprise-level policy enabled remote work in the event of a home or personal emergency that precluded someone from physically being in the office. About three months ago, our office implemented a remote work policy which permitted more planned and scheduled remote work. These policies have been working well and have given OIT an opportunity to prepare our own infrastructure, equipment deployment, and habits to strategically support remote work for city employees. 

OIT had also started an enterprise-wide effort to implement Microsoft Teams as the communication and collaboration platform of choice recently. This work began about one month before the coronavirus outbreak and has proven critical to enabling a larger part of the workforce to work from home. 

The current situation has accelerated these preparations for remote work, but our early efforts at supporting remote work from a strategic standpoint have proven helpful during the coronavirus. There are simply more city employees who are able and comfortable with remote work now than there were even a year ago.

3. What solutions do you have that enable remote/telework?

  • Strategically moving from desktop computers to more of a laptop model to allow portability for employees wanting or needing to work remotely. 
  • A coordinated use of OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams to serve as the primary platforms (and an integrated platform in Teams) for remote work. So, unsurprisingly, a lot of cloud-based tools that don’t require use of in-network shared drives. 
  • A Virtual Private Network (VPN) option for employees who need to go beyond communication and document access needs (i.e., employees who must access the city’s network in order to reach business-critical applications that aren’t in the cloud).  
  • We’ve created a separate URL that can be reached from our phila.gov webpage via employee credentials that includes critical how-to documents related to remote work. The site offers guides about using technology to work remotely (i.e., Teams, VPN, etc.), policies and procedures about coronavirus-related human resource and payroll operations when working remotely, and instructions about contracting and vendor payments while working offsite.

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Ben Miller Associate Editor of GT Data and Business

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.

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