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.

About the Author

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

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