By Daniel Pulliam
dpulliam at govexec.com
August 8, 2005
The security of the government's computer systems is not an impediment
to expanding agencies' use of telework, says a report from a
cybersecurity public policy advocacy group.
The 12-page report  urges agencies to allow employees to work from
home using high-speed Internet connections and telephone lines.
Fifteen years of pilot programs, legislative mandates, threats to cut
funding and presidential directives have made little difference in the
number of employees who are able to work away from the office,
according to the report from the Arlington, Va.-based Cyber Security
"Overall federal efforts are puny compared to the wide adoption of
telework by the private sector," the report says. "Adoption of
telework in the federal government began in 1990 and is on the
upswing, but the level seriously lags private industry."
According to a survey by the Dieringer Research Group of Milwaukee,
Wis., 44.4 million Americans worked from home in 2004, up from 41.3
million in 2003, a 7.5 percent increase. About 14 percent of federal
workers worked away from their main offices in 2002 and 2003,
according to numbers from a May 2004 Government Accountability Office
Despite extensive Internet-based attacks on government computer
systems , the report states that human error, not technological
lapses, has been the cause of most major incidents of compromised
computer information. Establishing solid network and physical security
systems remains critical, and guidelines established by the National
Institute of Standards and Technologies provide broad direction for
securing computer systems used by teleworkers.
"It is a fairly common misconception that cybersecurity concerns are
holding back telework in the federal government," said CSIA executive
director Paul Kurtz.
The barriers agencies face in expanding telework include a lack of
financial incentives because agencies do not get to keep money saved
through reduced overhead costs, and the preference of managers to have
their employees in the same physical location.
CISA urged the Office of Management and Budget to include telework in
its President's Management Agenda for e-government and for OMB to
ensure that agencies comply with the Office of Personnel Management's
emergency planning guidelines , which lists telework as an
important contingency planning tool.
The report states that calls by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., for agencies
to meet minimum standards for telework went unheeded and requests for
the results of a measure mandating that agencies create telework
programs  or lose $5 million in funding went unanswered.
Later this year, CISA will hold a town hall-style meeting in the
Washington area promoting telework.
Sept 16-18th, 2005
San Diego, California