Written by Jackson Barnett
The U.S. Coast Guard’s plans to continue teleworking could be compromised by weak data verification on how many of its members still work remotely, according to the Government Accountability Office. found in a new report.
The maritime service may not be performing the necessary weekly audits of the surveys it collects on people who telecommute, which could cloud the picture of how many people need technology to support their connectivity outside of Coast Guard offices. Working with inaccurate data could lead to poor planning of future technical requirements and budgeting to support Coast Guard IT, according to the report.
“Coast Guard officials were unable to provide assurance or evidence that deliberately designed weekly audits to verify the accuracy and completeness of this data were underway,” the report said. “Without such assurance, the Coast Guard could rely on inaccurate and incomplete information to make decisions based on that data, for example to assess its operational readiness. “
The Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, was also unable to confirm the number of telecommuting agreements it has signed with employees and guards, further clouding the image of telecommuting. The GAO recommended that the service address the situation by implementing plans to ensure that all people working remotely have a telework agreement, by verifying telework survey data, and by putting in place additional checks to ensure that supervisors review telecommuting agreements at least annually.
“The GAO found that the Coast Guard lacked control over telecommuting documentation and that its personal data was unreliable,” the report said.
Coast Guard officials want many staff and rangers to continue telecommuting for the foreseeable future, a prospect that GAO warns requires careful analysis of its telecommuting data to ensure it has enough back-tech technology. end to take over.
Interviews by GAO also showed that at the start of the pandemic, the service lacked bandwidth and laptops to support its staff working from home. The CARES bill money provided the Coast Guard with the necessary equipment, but how it is used and in what capacity is unclear due to a lack of data audits on its telework investigations.
“During the pandemic, the Coast Guard faced challenges in balancing the need to protect its personnel with its responsibility to continue missions and operations,” according to the report.
The Coast Guard has been in the midst of a “technological revolution” since 2020 to modernize its aging systems and migrate its technology to the cloud. Commander Karl Schultz said the service needed to come out of the ’90s to improve connectivity on both its cutters and onshore offices. Meanwhile, the service added Wi-Fi to some cutters and replaced outdated desktops with “two-in-one tablets.”