Interview: NSF Chief Information Officer David Nelson on IT challenges during COVID-19

“If IT operations are the most important component for a resilient 21st century government, then what’s the most important raw element? Not silicon, but electricity. Enter the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees reactor safety and security for the critical infrastructure that supplies 20 percent of the U.S. daily supply of electric power. The agency also manages licensing for radioactive materials, including spent reactor fuel handling and storage.”

“NRC’s swift transition to pandemic-era operations was attributed to preparation and training. NRC had been prepared for widespread telework after refreshing all of the agency’s laptops to Windows 10 software last year, and paving the way for mobile access with Microsoft 365.”

“With the coronavirus pandemic closing in, NRC pivoted to several days of agency-wide training on telework technologies before enabling most employees to work from home. The result: 98 percent of the agency’s 3,000-strong workforce was equipped to work from home immediately, with only a two-week spike in help desk calls.”

“NRC doubled its VPN capacity in a week to meet increased demand, and quadrupled its capacity for concurrent VPN sessions, to a total of 3,600. On the security front, the agency quickly moved patching operations off-prem, adopting a cloud-based solution that accelerated patching for a host of zero-day vulnerabilities.”

“In an exclusive interview with MeriTalk, NRC CIO David Nelson explains how the agency shifted to the new normal without missing a beat – and how improvements realized during the process will go into permanent practice…” Read the full article here.

Source: CIO Crossroads: Federal IT in the COVID Crisis – NRC Edition – June 4, 2020. MeriTalk.

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