Digital government push fuels BYOD adoption

Three months have passed since the launch of the Digital Government Strategy, and “today agencies are making great strides toward putting a solid foundation for a 21st-century digital government in place,” said U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel.

As examples of success, he cited the Census Bureau’s recently-released first mobile app, America’s Economy. The app delivers real-time updates on fiscal trends and economic indicators, among other features. Until Aug. 23 it was available only for the Android platform, but now is on Apple's iOS as well.

Census officials have also released the underlying data through its first publicly available application programming interface. The API, which pulls from the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census, “has yielded an unprecedented level of interest from citizen developers,” VanRoekel wrote Aug. 23 on the White House blog.

“This is just one example of the power of unlocking rich government data sets and services to the public and is exactly what the Digital Government Strategy is trying to accomplish,” the federal CIO said. “But it is just the beginning.”

Other recent “building blocks” aimed at helping agencies scale existing best practices across government include: 

  • A bring-your-own-device toolkit for agencies contemplating the adoption of a BYOD program
  • A report on how the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s standards and guidelines are changing to address mobile security
  • Tips on how agencies can roll out effective digital services governance structures

The just-released BYOD guidance stresses that BYOD is not mandatory and the toolkit isn't meant to be comprehensive "but rather provides key areas for consideration and examples of existing policies and best practices." The document was produced by the Digital Services Advisory Group and the Federal CIO Council.

In addition to offering an overview of considerations for BYOD adoption, the document highlights successful federal BYOD pilots or programs, including:

  • The Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau implemented a virtual desktop that allows a BYOD solution with minimal policy or legal implications.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is one of the first federal agencies to launch a BYOD pilot in which employees can choose to opt out of the government-provided mobile device program and install third-party software on their own smartphones, so they can be used for work purposes.
  • The State of Delaware officially embraced BYOD, which could save it an estimated $2.5 million -- about half of its current wireless costs.

Aug. 23 marked the deadline for all agencies to identify a minimum of two services that contain high–value data and make them adhere to the digital government policy. The next milestone is Nov. 23, when agencies have to establish a comprehensive governance structure and create an inventory of mobile devices and wireless service contracts.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Sun, Aug 26, 2012 Adam

BYOD might be a good fit for government, but it also raises serious questions about protecting sensitive data, not to mention the pressure on IT staff to support so many different types of devices. It's possible to get the benefits of BYOD while managing its challenges by using virtualization and HTML5 technologies to keep data and applications separate from personal devices. One such solution is Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP client that enables users to connect from most types of devices to any RDP hosts (such as VDI virtual desktops or Windows Remote Desktop Services) and run full Windows desktops or applications in a browser tab. There's nothing to install on the end user devices, as you only need an HTML5-compatible browser. That protects sensitive data by keeping it off the device, and also reduces IT support costs, since IT staff don't need to spend time installing software on so many different platforms. All they need to do is give employees a URL and login credentials. http://www.ericom.com/BYOD_Workplace.asp?URL_ID=708 for more info. Please note that I work for Ericom

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