Department of Homeland Security (DHS) CIO Karen Evans said today she needs to make sure that the agency’s ability to conduct large-scale telework remains sustained as uncertainty continues over future developments with the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking today at the AFFIRM/USCC Annual Cybersecurity Summit, Evans was asked about the agency’s planning for telework given the possibility of subsequent waves of COVID-19, as well as winter-season flu.

“We are planning for the second wave … this is DHS, and it is all about planning,” she replied. “We have a use-case now that shows how we can maintain” the capabilities that the agency developed to accommodate widespread telework, she said.

“I have to make sure that the way the department pivoted to telework is sustainable,” Evans said.  She continued that agencies had long discussed the importance of network modernization and being cloud-ready, and added, “this situation has made that a reality.”

Speaking of telework more broadly, Evans said, “We are never going to be able to not do that again.” Looking to the future, she said DHS will look at the balance between in-office and telework, with an eye to having a “blended work space.”  And, she said one advantage to having proven telework capabilities means that DHS employees “don’t necessarily have to move to Washington, D.C. anymore.”

“We can’t go back, we can only continue to go forward,” the CIO said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.