Here is the second installment in our series recognizing exceptional work by Alaska state employees during the pandemic. The State of Alaska is one of our closest partners. Up now: the Alaska Department of Administration, which supports the state workforce in areas of finance, personnel, labor relations, property management, procurement and more.
For the State of Alaska, an unprecedented shift to teleworking was a necessary centerpiece of efforts to protect the wellbeing of employees and the public from COVID-19. In just two months, 6,000 employees — that’s 40% of the State of Alaska workforce — transitioned to telework. Outstanding efforts by the State of Alaska Office of Information Technology (OIT) made possible the widespread use of this essential tool.
Before the virus reached Alaska, the office coordinated with all departments on a bulk purchase of laptops to give employees what they needed to telework. In the background, the team moved fast. IT staff assessed network architecture for connectivity, bandwidth limits, user support and network equipment throughput capacity. What needed to change to ensure the success of thousands of employees working from home? The team quickly identified a probable issue with Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection capacity but before it caused problems, the Office of Information Technology brought in technical experts and industry partners to root out a solution. Over the course of a few days, they increased VPN capacity by two or three times, a vital stopgap at a time hundreds of additional employees each week transitioned to working from home. The team then designed and implemented a permanent solution that increased capacity by a factor of 10.
Simultaneously, this office stood up Microsoft Teams and DocuSign and made them available across the State workforce, to support collaboration, document sharing and digital approval in this new teleworking environment. Teams usership quickly grew to nearly 7,000 employees and DocuSign to nearly 1,500. Unprecedent user adoption, initiated by the new telework structure, was supported by an exceptional training program resulting from the IT team’s collaboration with Microsoft. To date, over 8,000 State employees have attended at least one Teams training event.
While other State workers are hunkering down and telecommuting, the IT staff often work in the office, wearing personal protective equipment.
“Without OIT’s forethought, creativity and selfless service to their fellow State employees, it’s unclear how the State workforce would have functioned during the pandemic,” said Kelly Tshibaka, commissioner of the Department of Administration. “A significant health risk to State workers and operational risk to the government was largely averted by the faithful service of this OIT team.”
Scroll down to see all the unsung heroes with the Office of Information Technology or download the list here. We thank them all!
About the Unsung Heroes series
The State of Alaska has long been one of our closest and most reliable partners, helping to develop workforce housing, build and renovate domestic violence shelters, improve libraries and start from scratch a philanthropy for all of Alaska, the Pick.Click.Give program. Rasmuson Foundation President and CEO Diane Kaplan recently asked State of Alaska commissioners to highlight some of those whose efforts to adapt and respond stand out for going above and beyond, often in ways not seen by the public. This ongoing series is the result.