Kundra suggests feds get $2,000 subsidy for mobile devices

Goal is to leverage workers' personal devices in the federal workplace

Federal agencies should move toward leveraging employees’ personal mobile devices such as BlackBerrys and smart phones to bring them into operation in the federal workplace, according to Federal CIO Vivek Kundra.

The federal government could chip in a $2,000 subsidy each to federal employees to help them buy the devices, Kundra said at an AFCEA Bethesda conference on Feb. 25.

With consumer IT regularly outpacing advances in federal desktops, employees can buy smart phones and mobile devices on their own that typically have more capabilities and greater functionality than what is available through federal procurement procedures, Kundra said.


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As a result, many federal employees carry both assigned devices and their own devices. “It is pretty annoying,” Kundra said, holding up his own iPhone and another mobile device.

Also, agencies often spend a great deal of funding to customize and secure mobile devices designated for agency use, Kundra said, adding that the money could be better spent by allowing employees to instead use their personal devices.

In addition, agencies should consider virtualizing a federal desktop onto a mobile platform that their employees could access from their own smart phones, laptop computers and mobile devices, he suggested.

“The old world is a single platform on a desktop,” Kundra said. “The new world is a virtual platform.”

In the near future, mobile applications will be hardwired into all applications rather than being add-ons, he added.

Maintaining device and network security would be top considerations, and it is possible that security features could be an add-on to a consumer device, Kundra said.

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Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Mar 29, 2011

Ok, excuse me for throwing something in the punchbowl, but what about records retention ? Does this mean that our'personal' items on our own device become Federal Records and are (supposedly) archived and sent to the Federal repositories and then (perhaps) go to NARA to become public ? Who decides what constitutes a 'federal record' when a political appointee uses their "own" device to send political "advice" to the people in their organization ? oops, something's floating in the punchbowl...

Wed, Mar 16, 2011

Certification and accreditation does not allow personal devices on govt. networks unless explicitly allowed. Since when are we allowed to store govt. data on personal devices anyway?

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 Mark Arnold, MD

OK, I'm sorry .... You just took away my raise that I could have used for my household expenses, but you are going to give me money to buy mobile equipment? I thought we (Fed Gov't) were broke? The Executive Branch needs to get their priorities straight.

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 Sterling DC

Switch between personal and government data using an on-off miniapp like PowerBar uses for turning on and off wifi.

In general this is a good idea. The devil is in the weeds, which means your agency's IT shop in the case. If your IT shop is conservative, it may restrict access to app stores like Google Marketplace. One solution is to pilot this idea in targeted IT shops then roll it out in phases to the gov community.

Wed, Mar 2, 2011

Not a bad idea! This guy presents a pretty practical approach. Fed employees are responsible individuals.... they do so much for our government as it is... it's important to provide them with the right tools.

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