Federal agencies deserve a star for their efforts to share over the last few weeks--particularly around mobile. The recent explosion of mobile resources could continue into this week, as well. Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration's unveiling of the Digital Government Strategy.
If the architects of the digital strategy can deliver on even a portion of these outstanding items mobile champions at the agency level will have much to celebrate.
The General Services Administration's office of citizen services and innovative technologies has developed a guide for agencies looking to procure mobile applications, responsively-designed websites, mobile program testing or mobile developer services.
"Agency developers looking to jump-start their efforts can find source code for native and web projects from a variety of sources: federal agencies, other governments, and third-parties in the private sector," writes Mike Pulsifer, lead IT specialist for the division of enterprise communications at the Labor Department, in a May 13 blog post.
The Defense Information Systems Agency announced May 17, the approval of security technical implementation guides that will open the department's doors to Apple's iOS 6 devices. The STIG approval allows government-issued iOS 6 mobile devices to connect to Defense Department networks within mobility pilots currently underway or under the forthcoming mobile device management framework, said the department.
"We do this in our personal lives all the time," said Ron Ross, a fellow and senior computer scientist at NIST. "I have stuff in a safe deposit box. I can't fit everything at home in that safe deposit box, but I go through and take my very critical stuff" out of the house, whose locked doors won't stop all intrusions.
Mobile phone usage in developing countries can help combat poverty by giving the residents a way to send and transfer money, as well as receive information that could grow business, said panelists at a May 16 Brookings Institute event. For farmers in Africa, mobile capability means they can find out how much crops are selling for in other parts of the world and get a better price for their own product, Tufts University Economics Professor Jenny Aker said.
The strategy initially called for a governmentwide bring-your-own-device policy within 3 months, which ended up becoming a 43-page BYOD toolkit (.pdf) published Aug. 23, 2012. "It became quickly apparent that getting out an actual policy that applied across the diversity of agencies in that time frame was not something that was realistic and achievable," said Rick Holgate, chief information officer of the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau.
The task of pulling together a complete, standardized inventory of all of its data is an enormous task for agencies—one Martin admits could be an overwhelming challenge.
One way Apple devices are working their way into the hands of federal employees, with the blessing of IT departments no less, is through hearing- and visually-impaired employees.
The issue of reimbursement has been difficult for agencies to navigate as they experiment with bring your own device as an alternative to their traditional, government-provisioned mobile device strategies. It's clear that employees would pay for their own device but responisbility for talk and data plan costs are less well defined, said Kim Hancher, chief information officer at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"It's very simple for us," FEMA's Tonya Schreiber said. "If it doesn't work in the field, then it doesn't work." Put another way: "If you can't get your job done in a disaster, then you can't get your job done."
The Defense Department plans to take only 30 days to approve new mobile devices rather than the twelve months it currently takes, DoD Deputy Chief Information Officer for Command, Control, Communications and Computers Robert Wheeler said at an April 30 mobility town hall meeting. The longer the DoD takes to approve mobile devices, the more quickly they go out of date, he said.
The Veterans Affairs Department May 7 awarded a $200 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for cellular services and devices to AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and A&T Systems.
During last month's meeting, Fitzgerald accused the board in charge of setting up a national public safety broadband network of not thoroughly weighing the interests of the public safety subcommittee and making decisions about the network in secretive meetings.
Despite praise from the Obama administration, there's some justified skepticism growing around the appointment of someone who spent 12 years as president and CEO of CTIA, the wireless industry's primary lobbying group.
BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, and devices using Samsung's Knox for Android are now allowed on Defense Department networks.
"Another form/agreement will be created for individual facility approvals specifically for borrowing mobile devices," said VA spokeswoman Josephine Schuda. The department's current user agreement for the pilots is a variation of the form used to take any government property out of a VA central office building, said Schuda.
While the maturity of bring your own device strategies varies widely across government, more agencies are standing up mobile device management systems as a precursor to BYOD. The Commerce and Justice departments now have MDM contracts available to components and pilots underway; and the Defense Department's forthcoming MDM and app store contract award will enable BYOD in the unclassified environment, say officials.
To implement FirstNet, the planned interoperable public safety broadband network, the Federal Communications Commission is considering ways to prevent radio frequency interference and to transition incumbents out of the spectrum.
Rules that would restrict the participation of the two largest wireless carriers could reduce Federal Communications Commission spectrum auction proceeds by 40 percent and put First Responder Network funding at risk, a April 30 Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy report (.pdf) says. The FCC currently is developing a two-part auction that enables television broadcasters to voluntarily give up some of their spectrum licenses in a reverse auction so they can be resold to wireless service providers.