[ISN] CSIA advises feds to promote telework as continuity measure

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Aug 3 06:03:29 EDT 2005


By Joab Jackson 
GCN Staff

Federal agencies should do more to allow their employees to work at 
home, according to a network security policy group. Should terrorists 
strike U.S. metropolitan subways or highways, agencies will then be 
better equipped to continue operations because workers can continue to 
work from home, according to a report from the Cyber Security Industry 

"Telework will make us a far more resilient. Even if we have a major 
attack on the infrastructure downtown or on a major transport system, 
we will still be able to communicate with each other," said Paul 
Kurtz, executive director of CSIA. 

Released last week, the report, Making Telework a Federal Priority: 
Security is Not the Issue, notes that many federal agencies have 
discouraged teleworking initiatives in the past, citing security 
concerns about workers tapping into internal networks from afar. Few 
still list security as a concern however, realizing the technology can 
be robust enough to handle remote access, Kurtz said. Yet government 
agencies still lag when it comes to offering employees the option to 

The recent London bombings show how agency operations could be 
hindered should terrorists strike public transportation, however. 

"We are going to have disruptions in our community infrastructure 
here, whether it will be a bomb threat or a bomb itself, where we 
could have extended outages," Kurtz said. 

Telework can help with agency continuity-of-operations plans in such 
crises, CSIA suggests. The group cites Federal Preparedness Circular 
65, issued in 1999, which provides guidance on how to develop disaster 
contingency plans and specifically encouraged agencies to look at 
remote locations. 

Increasing federal teleworking would also reduce traffic congestion 
and air pollution and, the report claims, increase employee 

Despite an abundance of pilot programs, presidential directives, 
legislative mandates and threats of funding cuts, agencies have been 
falling behind their commercial counterparts in migrating people 
toward working at home. 

The report cites a May 2004 Government Accountability Office study 
that showed the percentage of federal employees who were eligible to 
telework did not increase between 2002 and 2003. CSIA contrasted this 
stagnation with a 7.5 percent increase in the number U.S. home workers 
from 2003 to 2004, according to a study conducted by the Dieringer 
Research Group Inc. of Milwaukee. 

Teleworking barriers are not technology-related, but rather cultural 
and budgetary, the CSIA report posits. Mid-level managers still prefer 
to physically watch over their workers, Kurtz said. Also, financial 
considerations might be thwarting teleworking: Any money saved, such 
as reducing office space, must be returned to the Treasury. Nor are 
agencies enthusiastic about providing additional funding for telework 
training and information. 

The CSIA suggested that the President's Management Agenda for 
e-government should include a component to increase teleworking.

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