US agencies rapidly adapt to COVID-19 lockdown

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020

US agencies rapidly adapt to COVID-19 lockdown

US federal government agencies have adopted a number of measures aimed at adapting their workforce to working from home during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a performance audit, federal CIO Suzette Kent said the US Government has rapidly adapted to the need to work and collaborate remotely.

“As of today, the federal government is open and operating at the highest sustained level of telework in history. Virtual platforms and digital signatures are being used to process transactions and facilitate virtual onboarding and offboarding,” she said.

“People who began 2020 with no knowledge of ‘collaboration tools’ are now adept at videoconferencing and screen sharing with team members.”

According to Kent's report, agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Science Foundation are now supporting over 95% of personnel in a telework environment.

Initiatives highlighted in the report include the Department of Education re-architecting its personal identity verification authentication and laptop issuance policies and VPN capacity over the course of just five days, and the Department of State implementing virtual onboarding of new employees.

Multiple agencies have reported utilising data and AI to help inform their COVID-19 response-related actions, and adapting their IT service desks to support remote operation.

More broadly, agencies have been responding to the crisis by ramping up their use of technology. The US Treasury Department rapidly developed the new Get My Payment application, designed to inform local taxpayers on the status of their economic impact payment.

Meanwhile the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a system that uses over 200 datasets to provide a common operating picture of the spread, impact and behaviour of COVID-19 for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Image credit: ©

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