In its 21 April e-mail to all employees, the Employee Activities Committee
(EAC) announced an arrangement with a private firm for Internet access at a
very reasonable cost to interested staff. In a conversation recently
overheard in the cafeteria, I learned of another Internet service provider
with a far more reasonable monthly rate. The individual who was speaking,
apparently a programmer, was commenting to others that he has unlimited
free access to the Internet from his home computer through a modem
connection to the NCAR computing network. He mentioned that he has had this
access for quite some time and noted that his situation is far from unique.
Apparently, he and many of his fellow programmers know whom to contact in
the hierarchy of NCAR computing about setting up a full-access remote
connection (not just e-mail) and have done exactly that.
No doubt the permission for this access was granted under the auspices of
his work-related activities, but that principle could apply to dozens, if
not hundreds, of employees. I think most would agree that it's a stretch to
call this type of after-hours use "telecommuting," but gthat's probably how
the original plea was made. Unfortunately, this unadvertised UCAR benefit
reeks of the "good ol' boy" system, where knowing the right people in the
organization grants access to special privileges. Many of our staff, across
all work disciplines, can easily justify full remote access to the NCAR
network of computers for occasional work-related tasks when not at the
office. It seems only fair that the advantage enjoyed by this employee and
others like him should be equally applied across the whole of the staff.
Much hyperbole has been broadcast lately about the importance of equity
within the organization. I believe this issue falls squarely into that arena.
I have several questions regarding this matter:
1. What rules determine eligibility for those requesting full remote
access to the NCAR computing network?
2. How many employees in the entire organization are currently granted
full remote network access under the auspices of work-related need?
3. Whom can interested staff and I contact so that we too can obtain
this type of network access?
Answered on May 12, 1999
This question raises some important issues regarding the use of
UCAR-supplied equipment for business and personal use. The UCAR/NCAR
Management Committee has recently discussed the appropriateness of
employees' personal use of UCAR computers, particularly as it relates to
the Internet and Web pages. Generally, the computers at UCAR are supplied
by the U.S. government and remain U.S. government property. As such, the
equipment is to be used for UCAR business only. Employees may use the
equipment for minor incidental personal use on a very limited basis only.
At a recent UMC meeting, it was suggested that the EAC look into
discounted packages of Internet service providers (ISPs) so that employees
would have a way to have personal access to the Internet. The EAC did so,
and in April an ISP with reasonable monthly rates was announced to all staff.
UCAR has provided employees with remote access to its network for
quite a while. Over 500 employees have dial-in capabilities for various
services, including e-mail, remote access to files, and access to UCAR
applications such as Bi-Tech. Depending on the type of access, employees
may be able to use the Internet from a remote location. The dial-in
capabilities may be supplied by the employee's program or through SCD.
Programs and divisions control access to their own systems, if any; SCD
sets up general dial-in and PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) accounts on a
request basis with program or division approval. Employees who need remote
access for UCAR business reasons should contact their local system
administrator for help in setting things up.
The accounts supplied by SCD merely provide access to UCAR's network,
and SCD does not provide other technical support for setting up remote
access. Setting up a connection via an SCD account requires advanced
technical knowledge. Dial-in capabilities through a program vary, and your
local system administrator can answer questions concerning approval and
set-up. The resources provided for remote access are limited and busy
signals are fairly common.
Once an employee has remote access to UCAR's network, the employee is
bound by the same restrictions as for on-site access. The system is to be
used only for UCAR business and not for personal use. Because of the nature
of many employees' work, it is common for them to check and respond to
e-mail from home or while traveling. Employees may transfer files from work
sites to home, check calendars, use other UCAR applications, or even use
the Internet, but only as they would while at work. Personal use is not
Employees who have justifiable reasons for remote access to UCAR's
network are generally provided with such access. The set-up of the account
is fairly complicated and requires a fair amount of time, so the reason for
access needs to be balanced with the resources required to set it up. An
employee who may want to check e-mail occasionally may not have a
justifiable reason for a remote-access account. Your division or program
administrator can provide additional information.
Employees who are looking for access to the Internet for personal use
should look into an account with an ISP. There are various national
providers and the EAC has a Web page with information about the ISP that is
offering discounts to UCAR employees. ISPs can provide software and support
so that set-up and use are fairly user-friendly. Some ISPs have upgraded to
56K modems and can provide faster service than SCD does through its PPP
--Bob Roesch, Manager, Human Resources