VA gears up for buy of up to 100,000 tablet computers

In one of the largest moves to mobile devices by a civilian agency, the Veterans Affairs Department plans to procure up to 100,000 tablet computers, the agency recently announced.

VA's acquisition strategy includes a nationwide mobile device management (MDM) solution that will make it easier to manage and securely connect tablets and smart phones to the agency's enterprise network, according to a performance work statement published on the Federal Business Opportunities website on Oct. 17.

Roger Baker, the VA’s chief information officer, previously had announced that the department was working to make iPhones and iPads available to staffers to connect to VA networks by Oct. 1. He also began testing out an iPad himself.

The tablets are primarily intended for VA's thousands of medical clinicians, including doctors, nurses and technicians, although some might go to staff and managers at VA headquarters.


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VA gets ready for iPhones and iPads

VA's Roger Baker gives an iPad a test run


Baker previously had identified security as one of the issues that needed to be addressed before the smart phones and tablets could connect to the VA networks. He commissioned an internal study on security for the devices this summer.

The study determined that the use of the MDM solution should be sufficient to overcome the lack of FIPS 140-2 encryption available for the iPhone and iPad, the work statement states. Key features include compliance enforcement, enterprise reporting and delivery of a custom VA applications store, the document states.

“The MDM solution allows VA to gain visibility to the devices as well as apply enforcement of VA security, management and other applicable policies to the devices from an enterprise perspective." the statement said.

The VA also posted a request for information on Oct. 20 asking vendors to respond with information on available solutions. The due date for responses is Oct. 28.

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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