VA CIO Details Telework, Other Pandemic Tech Turns

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – largely because of its broad, hands-on healthcare mission – is not the type of Federal agency that can transform to near 100 percent telework. But that didn’t stop the agency from more than tripling its telework capacity to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, said agency CIO James Gfrerer during a May 28 AFCEA Bethesda webinar event.

“VA is not by definition a telework agency, it’s very much an on-premise agency,” Gfrerer said. “But we did go from a [pre-pandemic] high of about 40,000 workers in remote access posture to almost 140,000 presently, and so it took a lot of work.”

In April, a VA spokesperson told MeriTalk that funding in COVID-19 relief legislation provided the capital for the agency to purchase new laptops and other devices to support the tech transition. Gfrerer credited the agency’s Office of Information and Technology as a key partner in VA’s effort to stay ahead of demand.

With partners across the agency, VA was able to double virtual private network and access gateway bandwidth to support employee remote access, said Gfrerer. The agency added 100,000 additional mobile devices and 250,000 endpoints to support its new initiatives.

For much more on VA’s pandemic-era tech transition efforts, and a look at its roadmap to further modernization, MeriTalk is featuring a long-form interview with Gfrerer next week in our CIO Crossroads series that chronicles the untold stories of Federal IT during the crisis.

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