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HR and Legal Implications of BYOD

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More than half of federal information workers use their personal smartphones for work purposes, even though agencies have not fully fleshed out their BYOD or “bring your own device" policies, according to a new report by Forrester Research and Cisco.

Most government organizations issue mobile phones and laptops to employees: Sixty-two percent of workers are issued laptops with no choice of make or model, and 50 percent of workers are issued a standard mobile device, according to the report.

Still, despite being issued a device by their agency, more than 58 percent of information workers in government use a personal smartphone for work purposes without considering what their organization supports, the survey found. At the same time, most agencies are still in the research and pilot phases with BYOD policies, and very few government organizations have agencywide BYOD programs.

In addition, only 6 percent of smartphone users and 4 percent of mobile phone users who use their personal devices receive a subsidy, the report found.

Not surprisingly, IT decision makers are most worried about the security of applications and the data on personal devices. But concerns reach far beyond IT to human resources and legal departments, Cisco and Forrester found. For example, agency leaders are questioning liability issues in determining who is responsible in the case of theft or loss of a device. And HR leaders are concerned about how the use of BYOD blurs the line between work and life, possibly violating work rules imposed by some public-sector unions.

“Government IT decision-makers recognize the inevitability of BYOD and set out to define their terms,” the report stated. “But the BYOD trend has raised additional questions around the workforce and the workplace of the future – a broader spectrum of issues that government organizations will have to address.”

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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