The COVID-19 pandemic has made all levels of government radically change how they operate. From shifting their workforce to telework to delivering government services digitally, Federal, state, and local governments have had to pivot the way they work, while still delivering on their mission. […]

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., proposed in a July 31 letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to engineer a dramatic, long-term funding increase for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) by moving $2 billion of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) IT modernization work to the front of the TMF funding line.






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In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., 20 Democratic senators plus Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged leadership to include maximum telework provisions for Federal employees and contractors in the next coronavirus relief package.






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Pentagon Military Defense DoD

Per new figures from the Office of the CIO, the Department of Defense (DoD) accommodated more than one million personnel on telework as of mid-June, compared to the 95,000 employees that worked remotely prior to the coronavirus pandemic.






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Pentagon Military Defense DoD
General Services Administration GSA
Army DoD military Defense AI

A Federal network environment that supports classified telework is coming soon to agencies within the intelligence community, Jennifer Zbozny, director of the Software Engineering Center at the Army’s Communications-Electronic Command, confirmed at an event today.






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Pentagon Military Defense DoD

While the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) says that a pandemic was never a part of its strategic plan, the agency has released figures showing how it quickly prepared its workforce to continue operations including a 1,000 percent increase in virtual private network (VPN) access for its joint partners.






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capitol washington dc senate house congress-min

Democratic senators from Maryland and Virginia penned a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Michael Rigas urging them to clarify Federal agency reopening plans to continue maximum telework, and arguing that it’s “unsafe” to bring employees back to the office.






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EPA Environmental Protection Agency

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its “extensive, transparent, data-driven, measured and deliberate approach” to reopening its regional and National Capital Region offices, a spokesperson confirmed to MeriTalk that political leadership has returned to on-site work.






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Across the board, Federal agencies have made a massive shift to telework in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, agencies are beginning to look at how to safely bring employees back to worksites. While the Department of Defense (DoD) is taking a slow, phased approach, leadership is grappling with whether the culture of increased telework is here to stay.






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NSF’s CIO Dorothy Aronson said moving forward, lessons learned from the pandemic “can’t be unlearned.” “We probably will continue to be much more of a virtual organization in the future than we had been in the past,” she said.






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With the rise in telework, distance learning, and telehealth, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a spotlight on the importance of broadband connectivity. In a move to promote broadband expansion in rural America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) released nine policy principles to close the digital divide.






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NASA

NASA is taking a “risk-based, phased, and methodical” approach to reopening its offices, with the health and safety of its workforce and continuing telework as top priorities, according to the agency’s framework for returning to on-site work.






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