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How will FITARA affect government mobility?

Scott French is vice president of government at Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America.

Scott French is vice president of government at Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America.

Earlier this year, a group of federal CIOs met with their counterparts from several of the country’s largest corporations, including Coca-Cola and Exxon Mobil. The purpose of the meeting hit close to home for both sets of attendees: how to manage IT investments and how to measure and communicate the important role those investments play in improving organizations’ efficiency.

It’s exciting to see this collaboration and knowledge sharing between the public and private sectors, especially against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to implement the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act. As one of the most far-reaching federal IT reforms in decades, the law increases the authority and responsibility of agency CIOs in transforming the way the government acquires and uses IT resources.

By expanding the roles of agency-level CIOs in IT decision-making, FITARA empowers them to ensure that technology investments are cost-effective and provide value toward achieving organizational missions and goals.

One topic that almost certainly came up during the public/private CIO discussions was mobility. In the business world, mobile devices have become standard tools for improving employees’ productivity and efficiency. Yet adoption in government has traditionally been slower, in part because of the acquisition and management challenges that FITARA seeks to address. For government mobility, FITARA might prove to be the watershed moment we’ve been waiting for.

One of the most fascinating aspects of FITARA is the theory behind it. Streamlining IT investments to eliminate financial waste and increase productivity is a long-standing goal in government. But it might be the first time that elected leaders have chosen to address it by empowering the people who are closest to the problem and understand it best.

Agency CIOs know exactly what needs to happen in their organizations and are ready to manage the change necessary to bring the government fully into the cloud-first, mobile-first, data-driven era. As they settle into their newly enhanced roles, mobility is surely at or near the top of those CIOs’ to-do lists.

Mobile technology has been shown to significantly improve productivity and enable time and cost savings in a broad range of industries because it allows employees to complete more work from the field and make better decisions through access to real-time data and constant communication.

AOL Government’s research has shown that federal managers expect the same benefits. About half of those surveyed said government employees could redeploy at least 7 hours per week toward more productive work if fully enabled for mobility, and 19 percent said they could redeploy more than 12 hours per week. That’s an astounding 30 percent productivity increase in the traditional workweek.

Although the benefits of increased mobility are clear, large-scale deployments of new technology in the federal government have been slow. And they have often happened in the form of piecemeal rollouts of new devices as add-ons to the current IT landscape. Instead, mobile technology should be deployed strategically and in a holistic fashion because it has the potential to disrupt old systems and workflows and revolutionize operations and organizations.

That type of transformational change is hard, but if anyone has the ability to make it happen, it’s the CIO, especially with the new authority granted by FITARA.

We are only beginning to understand the impact the law will have on government operations. It’s a safe bet, however, that agency CIOs will take advantage of their newly expanded roles to harness the power of mobility for their organizations, employees and the public.

About the Author

Scott French is vice president of government at Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America.

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