Interview: Labor Department CIO Gundeep Ahluwalia on IT modernization lessons during COVID-19

“… There’s no hard-and-fast rule book for how to go above and beyond during a national crisis. But after speaking with Labor Department CIO Gundeep Ahluwalia, it’s clear that the agency’s pandemic response is a marathon, not a sprint, and that having the foresight to make significant investments in cloud and infrastructure modernization had a huge mission impact.”

“Labor oversees Federal administration of myriad workforce areas – unemployment insurance benefits, occupational health, wage and hour standards, and economic statistics. Its role plugs the agency squarely into the currently fractured employment landscape, and into the path to eventual recovery.”

“Labor was able to quickly shift to 95 percent telework by investing in the cloud (recently migrating 23 mission applications), doubling its VPN capacity, and partnering with industry to get pre-imaged laptops to employees working at home.”

“That agility translated to rapid mission impact during the pandemic response. Labor rushed technical assistance to numerous states whose unemployment claim systems are overwhelmed. It went electronic with systems that approve 100,000 foreign labor applications for seasonal workers – keeping store shelves stocked and helping prevent a labor shortage that would further devastate the economy. The agency’s prior investments in cloud and infrastructure modernization allowed it to easily handle immense surges in website traffic – including a 300 percent increase in page views on family medical leave, a 340 percent increase on disaster assistance, and a 20 times increase in traffic for benefits information – to continue providing service to citizens in need without blinking an eye.”

“Please join us for an in-depth conversation with Ahluwalia as he explains Labor’s greatest IT lesson: modernize as quickly as possible to get ready for the unexpected…” Read the full article here.

Source: CIO Crossroads: Federal IT in the COVID Crisis – Labor Edition – May 21, 2020. MeriTalk.

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