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By Matthew Montgomery
DCMA Public Affairs
The Defense Contract Management Agency’s Information Technology Directorate recently purchased 3,829 new laptops, marking another major milestone in current efforts to ensure the workforce of today is equipped to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
IT supports the DCMA Strategic Plan’s fourth line of effort, which calls for a change in how and where agency personnel work to better adapt to the future. Identifying opportunities to streamline tasks, while modernizing tools and equipment, ensures agency personnel are able to complete vital tasks regardless of location.
“The workforce has become more virtual, which means a greater reliance on computers and mobility to accomplish the mission,” said Frank Huber, deputy chief information officer. “While government owned mobile devices can appear more complex and slower than their commercial counterparts, the essential security measures ensure that sensitive Department of Defense information is always protected and available to enable an effective remote workforce.”
To ensure users have the best equipment available, Huber led the laptop purchase initiative. This new acquisition is the latest step in the agency’s technology overhaul that began three years ago.
“Since 2019, we have invested more than $22 million in new laptops and notebooks, an average of $1,683 per person across our civilian, military and contractor workforce, successfully deploying nearly 12,000 computers in that time,” said Karen Schultheis, acting chief information officer. “We have done a great deal to improve the computer experience for agency personnel, but the nature and speed of change of technology means it will always be a complex challenge.”
In another tech investment, IT issued smartphones to more than 50% of the workforce to drive mobility and connectivity. Users gain access to DOD unclassified information from nearly anywhere — office, contractor facilities or in remote locations – through the Defense Mobility Unclassified Capability. They also provide a secure wireless access point for government laptops when required.
“Our goal is to enable connectivity from wherever you work, whether in a government facility, at a contractor, at home or traveling to support the DCMA mission,” said Huber. “These devices, when used together, provide the greatest connectivity solutions for our workforce and ensure data can be shared and accessed as near to real time as possible.”
In addition to new devices, Schultheis said a reliable network is a key priority. The quick transition to a mostly virtual workforce and increased traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic presented DCMA, and other federal agencies, with workplace-evolution challenges.
“Literally overnight, our IT team pivoted to implement a new remote access solution that was capable of handling about 10,000 additional teleworkers,” said Schultheis. “At the same time, DOD established the Commercial Virtual Remote environment, which was our first introduction to Microsoft Teams. This has since been replaced by DOD 365-J, our more permanent Teams, SharePoint and cloud-based collaboration environment.”
DCMA is transitioning to a hybrid workplace and partnering with the Defense Information Systems Agency and Microsoft to modernize infrastructure and operations to manage the increased expectations and performance of existing systems. The agency plans to double the capacity of internet connections at the primary network nodes and upgrade network equipment to increase the speed of connections to the DOD network.
This latest computer buy, investments in smart technology and network improvements support DCMA’s fourth line of effort: “Innovate the Agency’s approaches to how and where we work to better adapt to the workplace of the future;” and more specifically, effort 4.3: “Modernize our processes and related tools and training to empower our workforce to be equally effective and efficient in both the onsite and virtual environment.”
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