Mar 12 2024

Agencies Find That Short-Term Fixes Lead to Valuable IT Experience

Solutions created in emergencies can carry over to routine work.

Federal agencies occasionally have to cobble together temporary technology fixes in emergencies. Sometimes, these quick adaptations are small and simple; say, having an employee use a loaner laptop while his or her crashed laptop goes through recovery.

There are times, however, when the skills needed to make these short-term fixes are called on to manage larger crises. Never was this more evident than in March 2020, when IT teams accustomed to handling issues in an office setting had to create a telework-friendly environment almost from scratch.

Four years later, what they learned in those chaotic few weeks in 2020 has provided a guide for adaptations and fast upgrades in a relatively calmer setting.

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Agencies Develop Dynamic Responses to Evolving Work Needs

CIOs from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Farm Credit Administration detail the pandemic responses they’ve kept to this day, including the need for digitization, videoconferencing and better security (see “Agencies Reveal the IT Lessons That Stuck Post-Pandemic”).

Each agency entered the public health emergency with varying degrees of expertise in creating remote work environments but found technologies and practices that continue to provide benefits, even in nonemergency situations.

In “Digital Collaboration Tools Power Federal Employee Productivity”, we learn how the U.S. District Court of Oregon leveraged teleconferencing tools to continue court business during the pandemic, but later found that the tools also allowed court employees at its various sites across the state to collaborate without having to travel.

The lessons don’t all spring from the COVID-19 experience. As agencies begin the move to Windows 11, they’re finding that what they learned during the sometimes-turbulent transition to Windows 10 can smooth the path to this new operating system.

The Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Education, among others, found that an early start is making for a less tumultuous transition (see “Early Bird Agencies Have Begun Deploying Windows 11”). Although the end of life for Windows 10 is not until 2025, preparing users’ laptops for the switch now could forestall last-minute problems next year.

Experience is not the only source of knowledge (to contradict a quote widely attributed to Albert Einstein), but it is incredibly valuable, as federal agencies are finding out.

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