By Katherine Davis
The COVID-19 pandemic propelled the Department of State into a new way of doing business. Across the Department, office managers had to determine how to accommodate staff working safely from their homes while continuing the critical work of diplomacy. This mission could not have been achieved without leadership from the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM). Bureau personnel rapidly scaled up several remote access programs to give personnel the means to work remotely. In some cases, they found themselves offering new services as well.
In support of this effort, IRM’s Mobile and Remote Access Division (MRA) enhanced the capabilities of the Department’s existing remote workspaces—GO virtual, GO desktop, GO mobile—and supported the rollout of GO browser, to respond to this new environment. As a result of IRM’s strategic action, personnel could continue to fulfill their missions from home while practicing social distancing.
To support remote OpenNet access, IRM issued GO virtual access credentials to more than 25,000 staff, and doubled capacity from 5,000 to 10,000 concurrent users. IRM additionally configured more than 2,000 GO desktop devices for users both domestically and overseas.
To support users unfamiliar with Department telework solutions, MRA, along with partners around the IRM bureau, provided online resources to users through the Telework Readiness Resources Portal. For a more in-person touch, IRM personnel supported pop-up IT service cafés in the Harry S. Truman Building cafeteria in Washington, and facilitated virtual pop-up cafés focused on familiarizing users with mobile capabilities.
As users became more comfortable, MRA optimized mobile solutions and integrated customer feedback into mobile programs. Software engineers added camera and microphone capabilities, provisioned IT administrators with the ability to manage their systems remotely, and began work to further increase GO virtual capacity. MRA plans to continue to add enhancements to mobile systems and is working to expand mobility across the Department, even post-pandemic.
To learn more about IRM’s response, click here to view their full report on Tech@State.
Katherine Davis is a communications consultant in the Bureau of Information Resource Management’s Mobile and Remote Access Division.