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'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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Reader comments

Mon, May 6, 2013

So where are these tablets now?

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 Mike Carrick San Francisco

This is FAR from amazing. I bought an I-Pad with MY OWN money, to stop lugging around an antiquated laptop running windows XP - YES that's what we run on in the VA. A DEAD operating system, with so much encryption and paranoia-ware that you barely get the 70% of the CPU that's left. The I-Pad was able to access Outlook until November 2011, and has never worked since. Just like RTLS - expensive TOYS bought at the expense of the taxpayers. Gifts for the privileged class, and nothing else. When I called for ssupport I was routed to a desktop tech who could not support it. If you don;t have a title - fugghedabouddit!! You don't rank.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

The title was just a tease. As if there were any other tablets besides iPads. Bill Gates may have invented computing (Windows) but Steve Jobs invented the only real computer, the iPad.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

Amazing! This is just another way for the VA to allow their employees and contractors to give away veterans’ private information.

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