Majority of EEOC employees reject BYOD in favor of government-provisioned BlackBerrys

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In June, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stood up a bring your own device, or BYOD, program, allowing employees to use their personally-owned BlackBerry, Android or iOS devices. But when offered the option, 77 percent of the workforce opted to keep using their government-provisioned BlackBerry rather than another device, said Kimberly Hancher, chief information officer at EEOC.

Hancher had pushed BYOD as a way to reduce her agency's mobile expenses--streamlining her wireless plan and reducing the number of BlackBerrys she covers. In all, each BlackBerry costs EEOC about $80 per month, said Hancher while speaking Nov. 15 at an AFCEA Bethesda event in Bethesda, Md.

In an effort to better understand why so many employees rejected BYOD, Hancher sought feedback from her agency's government-owned BlackBerry users. The responses from the 180 respondents were telling.  

The number one reason people didn't opt for BYOD was because they said they wanted to keep personal technology and work technology separate.

"Another reason people decided to keep their government-provided device was that they were concerned about their personal costs going up as they take on business email synchronization and business phone calls on to their personal rate plan," said Hancher.

The third reason cited by respondents was that they simply didn't have a smartphone. Hancher said the average age of EEOC's employees at headquarters and in the field is "somewhere in the 50s."

"They would have to go out, figure out what smartphone to get and then buy it, and learn it, and that kind of thing," said Hancher. "There's just no incentive to do that."

Hancher also asked the group what the agency could change in order to convince them to bring their own devices. The most common response was "nothing." Some people said, "reimbursement toward my personal costs." And the third most-common response was a request for a different phone number for personal and business use.

The EEOC is currently determining how to address BYOD reimbursement. Hancher said it could be similar to employees' transit benefit, in the range of $10 to $20 per month to cover mobile costs.

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