Agency to standardize on mobile tech

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, looking to improve the security, mobility and manageability of its IT infrastructure, has decided to standardize on three notebook computers for employees to use at work or in the field.

The three models -- two by Dell and one by Hewlett Packard – were the only ones to meet all of FEMA’s specifications, as outlined in a March request for information. A fourth model, by Lenovo, made the first cut, but was dropped because of a security concern with its startup program, according to a FEMA statement released July 19.

At present, FEMA has identified more than 24 different models on its network, which has proven difficult and costly to manage.

“Unnecessary heterogeneity in the FEMA infrastructure increases the cost of delivering IT services,” in such areas as product support, vendor management, integration and security infrastructure, FEMA officials said.

The standard will be effective for three years, although the agency plans to update it as necessary to reflect new technology options.

The policy is part of FEMA’s One-on-One initiative, in which the agency will equip all of its employees with a lightweight bundle of technology that will enable them to work securely whether they are at the office or in the field.

As part of the program, each employee will receive a smart phone, an encrypted data storage device and a notebook computer, along with a docking station for use in the office.

The initiative aims to fix two common complaints about mobile technology: too much weight and too little security. Notebook computers usually bought as desktop replacements tend to be hefty, but FEMA limited the options to systems weighing five pounds or less.

Portable computers also are seen as security risks, because they are much easier to steal than cumbersome desktop systems. As part of One-on-One, the encrypted data storage devices will be used both to boot the systems and to store files.

Smart phones will enable FEMA employees to access e-mail messages without even bothering with the notebook computer. However, the smart phone also will enable users to provide their notebook with Internet access in the field, according to the plan.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications: civic.com, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group