State to buy PDAs for telework overseas

A pilot program last year showed that State personnel want international access to the Internet and their calendar and contacts.

The State Department plans to outfit personnel with wireless handheld devices for teleworking abroad, according to a notice posted yesterday on FedBizOpps.

After conducting a 2004 pilot test with wired Hewlett-Packard and wireless Research in motion BlackBerry personal digital assistants, State officials found that department employees want international access to the Internet and their calendars and contacts. They must also be able to view up-to-date e-mail messages and memos when they travel.

Information about possible providers, available solutions and vendor track records are due Aug. 19. The notice contains no details about the duration or value of the contract.

Diplomatic duties involve casual e-mail access when on the road and re-creating virtual office environments when stationed elsewhere, so the devices would be implemented worldwide.

Although the notice does not overtly call for phone PDAs, the technical requirements list worldwide service for data and voice and equipment.

The technologies must be able to consistently synch with Microsoft Exchange and permit Web browsing from links in e-mail.

According to the request for information, any solution needs security controls that protect data, but also allow for fast retrieval and writing during conferences.

Other requirements include:

• Centralized configuration and operations management.

• Centralized security policy administration and enforcement capabilities.

• Remote lock/kill for wireless devices.

• Quick access to stored information regardless of location. Users must be able to access and record unclassified information they are authorized to view in a reasonable time frame during meetings and other times without overly burdensome security protocols.

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