Mobility

Agencies take different paths to mobility, GAO finds

There is more than one way to skin the mobility cat at federal agencies, according to a new report on the use of mobile services in government.

The study by the Government Accountability Office, released on Dec. 22, says that although some agencies have developed their own wireless services and capabilities, others rely on the General Services Administration for various levels of support.

GAO auditors surveyed a sample of officials at six federal agencies: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, National Endowment for the Arts, Federal Maritime Commission, and the departments of Interior and Transportation.

DOT, FEMA and NWS told GAO that efforts by the Office of Management and Budget and GSA have helped IT leaders convince their respective managers to approve enhancements that make their websites more accessible to mobile users. GSA and OMB have worked with agencies to help them execute the Obama administration's Digital Government Strategy.

By contrast, DOI and NEA officials told GAO they did not require any outside assistance, and the Federal Maritime Commission, which has around 100 employees, said it has focused its limited resources on other issues. According to GAO, the commission receives information from one of GSA's email updates and uses GSA as a point of contact for wireless access.

GAO said all 24 agencies that must comply with the Digital Government Strategy have made efforts to improve services for those who use mobile devices. According to agencies' reports, all of them have identified two or more services to be optimized for mobile use, as required under the Digital Government Strategy, auditors said.

Additionally, 21 of the agencies have optimized two or more prioritized services, GAO found. OMB officials told GAO that they work with agencies facing challenges meeting the milestones -- for example, by providing guidance through the U.S. Digital Services Playbook, which identifies 13 goals for agencies to consider as part of their efforts to improve digital services. Two of those goals involve considering consumers' needs and the type of devices they use, both of which touch on the use of mobile devices, GAO said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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