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Who Foots the BYOD Bill?


There’s an interesting conversation going on at GovLoop about the blog post I wrote late last month on GovLoop’s recent report on bring your own device, or BYOD, policies and the ability of such policies to enable cost savings and boost employee productivity.

“I think that BYOD is inevitable because the current model of the government furnishing devices is just not sustainable and justifiable, given the high cost to the taxpayer,” one GovLoop member wrote. “The perk of a government-furnished phone and laptop will go the way of government cars, shuttles, free parking, travel and personal offices. The government of the future will be mobile, agile, flexible and creative.”

One of the major drivers of BYOD is the potential costsavings for federal agencies. At the same time, agencies face a major hurdle in determining how to reimburse federal employees to ensure they are not personally incurring the cost of increased data usage from work-related activities.

GovLoop Community Manager Andrew Kzmarzick notes in the report that agencies might consider overcoming this hurdle by looking at other ways in which government reimburses employees. “Many agencies already reimburse or defray the cost of using public transportation for work-related travel,” he said. “Could BYOD determine the average cost of an employee voice and data plan -- both on the enterprise and personal levels -- and include an allowance for employees to cover the cost of using their own device while reducing the agency’s expenses?”

Another major hurdle for BYOD at federal agencies going forward is ensuring employees not only participate but that both they and their managers can use it effectively, a sentiment shared by several GovLoop members. In fact, one GovLoop member compares the use of BYOD in government to that in the U.S. school system.

“One of the beefs of the local high schools with BYOD is the lack of expertise in combining the device with the classroom effectively, not to mention the far fewer than expected participation,” the member wrote. “Maybe in the case of government, if the agency and the employee could see eye to eye on the exact use, it would benefit each side more. … And I wonder if fear from lack of understanding by the teachers or in this case, employers, is another roadblock.”

What are your thoughts on these potential roadblocks to BYOD and their potential solutions?

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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