Shutterstock.com

The era of government-supplied technology for employees is eroding

As BlackBerrys and other products wear out, employees increasingly will provide their own devices for work.

The next four to eight years in federal IT will be defined by what workers increasingly lack, experts say, including agency-issued phones, tablets and even laptops for telework.

“Bring your own device” policies already have been rolled out at some agencies, mostly on a voluntary basis. As the years roll on and agency-issued BlackBerrys and other product lines wear out, those policies will become increasingly common and, in some cases, mandatory, experts say.

The most basic reason is efficiency.

“Apple just released the iPhone 5,” said Darren Ash, chief information officer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and president of the American Council for Technology. “In the Android market it seems like a new model comes along every month. We can’t keep up.”

But there’s a deeper reason too. Just as the government doesn’t provide most employees with cars or Metro passes, some argue there’s no fundamental reason agencies should spend energy and resources providing workers with cellphones when they’re perfectly willing to get one for themselves. In fact, many employees would rather choose the product they want. It’s a trope of government technology conferences that many federal employees carry a government-issued BlackBerry in one pocket and a personal iPhone or Android in the other. In theory, reducing that clutter would be good for agencies, employees and the government’s carbon footprint.

Agencies have said they might offset this new employee burden with a stipend.

But resistance to a BYOD policy has been twofold. First, officials don’t trust iPhones and Androids to keep government information secure from hackers. Second, agencies aren’t sure they trust employees to not leave devices full of sensitive government documents sitting unsecured in the back seats of taxis or let children play Angry Birds on them.

Employees, for their part, don’t much like the idea of giving security officials power over their devices, which can be the equivalent of a personal diary, a calendar and a family photo album wrapped into one.

Officials are likely to crack both of these problems over the next administration or two, experts say. At the center of both will be a robust identity management system -- one that knows who you are and where you are and that can keep work and personal information separate, said Karen Evans, who was e-government director during the George W. Bush administration. On the work side of the device, security officials would be able to control settings and remotely wipe away any data if the device was compromised, she said. Evans is now national director for the U.S. Cyber Challenge, an organization devoted to bringing more technology students into the public and private cybersecurity workforce. 

An effective identity management system also would require a mobile-based biometric identification, such as a fingerprint or iris scan, to reach classified or sensitive information, IBM’s Chenok says. That technology isn’t commercially available and there are no government standards for it, but it should be on its way within the decade, he says.

With BYOD, as with collaborative technologies and other advances, four or eight years might be long enough for the beginning of a culture change, but the government moves like a battleship not a speedboat, said Steve Charles, co-founder and executive vice president of ImmixGroup, a federal technology contractor. The rule, he says, will be a lot of pilots and a lot of time before the ship of state changes course entirely.

“Look at how long it took for management to start to take seriously the idea that you can legitimately telework,” he says. “That took five or six years at least. The same thing will happen with BYOD or BYO anything. The activities from one shop to the next are so disparate. The idea the whole government is going to wholesale change how everyone operates is ridiculous. The short answer is it’s going to happen piecemeal.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.