Flag Day Marks 15 Years Of Innovation At GSA

On Tuesday, June 14th, the nation observed Flag Day, and this year’s holiday marked the 15th anniversary of a remarkable milestone here at GSA.  On June 14th, 1996, GSA reached its goal of giving each of its employees access to the internet, making it one of first federal agencies to provide this technology to its entire workforce.

In 1996, when our current Administrator Martha Johnson was Chief of Staff for the agency, GSA knew that internet access would bring greater value to the work that we do.  We set the goal of getting our employees online by Flag Day.  We overcame the logistical challenge of getting access to each desktop, and we overcame the challenge that many employees would be using the internet for the first time.  On June 14th, we reached our goal, and the internet gave GSA employees greater access to their colleagues and customers.  Now it is an integral part of the work that we do every day.

Today, 15 years later, GSA is still a leader in federal information technology.  Under Administrator Johnson’s leadership, we have accelerated the pace to provide our employees and stakeholders with modern productivity tools to fulfill the GSA mission anytime, anywhere.  For example, we have deployed agency-wide Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecommunications services.  This includes a softphone on our laptops so GSA’s employees have communications tools wherever they can access the internet.  We have also upgraded our network and remote access capabilities so that our agency is equipped for telework and mobility.

We maintain that “work is what you do, not where you do it,” and in that spirit we will soon be moving to a new cloud-based email and collaboration platform.  With the GSA Access Card providing secure two-factor authentication, we will have access to our email, documents, and collaboration features at all times, from any device.

We view IT as an investment in the productivity, morale, and success of our employees, rather than an end unto itself.  More change is coming, as we pilot new devices such as tablets and smartphones.  GSA is investing in high-definition videoconferencing capabilities, called Telepresence, for not only our agency but as a service to the entire federal government.  By bringing parties together virtually, we are helping all agencies to be greener and to fulfill their sustainability goals.

Flag Day 1996 was a milestone for GSA, but it was also the start of a journey that continues today and beyond.  As technology continues to advance, GSA is bringing these tools to the federal agencies to create a more effective government for the American people.