By Eboni York
As the Department of State grappled with unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Information Resources Management (IRM) has ensured that personnel serving around the world will continue to have access to critical technology and systems—whether at their worksite or as part of the more than 80 percent of employees working remotely. The importance of technology can often be underestimated, but IRM’s behind-the-scenes work over the past 18 months meant that they were ready to scale enterprise information technology (IT) platforms to meet the challenge of the telework surge.
When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March, IRM rapidly expanded technical capabilities so the Department’s workforce could interact flexibly while working in and out of the office. Most notably, IRM expanded GO Browser availability—the Department’s remote intranet platform—to the entire Department. IRM then vigorously marketed Microsoft Teams as the go-to cloud collaboration service for messaging and videos. IRM also made numerous critical Department applications available via GO Browser, offered new Webex video conferencing services, and approved cameras for use on and off OpenNet, improving collaboration between colleagues.
Dedicated to providing best-in-class customer support, IRM initiated a series of telework readiness workshops in the Harry S. Truman Building cafeteria in order to prepare employees for the rapid switch to remote working in March. IRM continues to host multiple online workshops each week. Additionally, IRM provides remote working resources on the IRM Telework Readiness SharePoint page, where overseas information management offices are able to share best practices and creative IT solutions.
“They’ve moved mountains,” said Michael Mestrovich, IRM’s principal deputy chief information officer. “The entire Department has depended on the staff of IRM, and they have delivered. Because of their commitment to mission alignment, agility, integrity, and innovation the State Department’s IT infrastructure will emerge from this crisis stronger than it has ever been.”
Eboni York is an information officer in the Bureau of Information Resources Management, Strategic Communications Unit.