By Angela Nuñez
Logan Harper is the community manager for MPA@UNC, a top Masters of Public Administration program offered through University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a contributor to Online MPA Degrees. In addition to public administration, he is also passionate about travel, cooking, and international politics. Follow him on Twitter @harperlogan.
In May 2012, the Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel issued the Digital Government Strategy,
which promotes cross-agency information sharing and accelerated adoption of mobile workforce solutions.
The Digital Strategy boldly supports the use of digital information management “to better leverage government data to improve the quality of services to the American people”. In the nine months since the report, government agencies from the USDA
to the U.S. Department of Defense
have followed up with various pilot programs and full rollouts of the “Bring Your Own Device” policy.
In theory, allowing federal workers to access information from mobile devices would support increased information sharing and coordinated efforts across all agencies.
The Digital Government Strategy and ensuing BYOD policy promotion are the results of a global increase in accessible technology and information. For example, the Digital Strategy notes that when an earthquake hit Virginia in August 2011, residents in New York City read about the quake on Twitter feeds 30 seconds before they experienced the quake themselves. Not surprisingly, 46 percent of American adults were owners of smartphones in March 2012, which is an 11 percent increase from the previous year. These statistics will continue to increase, as will the amount of public data accessible via mobile.
Federal Government agencies must adapt internal policies to capitalize on the opportunity to collect, manage and act on applicable data insights.
To properly weigh the effectiveness of any policy, we must clearly analyze the opportunities and challenges. We are in the midst of a global recession - where public and private enterprises must cut costs. Many organizations have allowed employee access to email and internal sites that were previously only attainable within the physical office.
This modernized business strategy not only promotes working remotely, but also reduces daily administrative expenses and the need for organization technology purchases. Additionally, remote-work access increases employee flexibility and promotes productivity outside the office.
It should be noted that while allowing employees to use their own devices reduces the need for upgrades and training, the policy also assumes that employees already own an appropriate device. The most serious concern of the BYOD policy is managing security throughout a myriad of devices and operating systems. This is a concern for any organization, but even more so for a government agency like the DoD.
To properly design and implement a BYOD policy, organizations must rigorously evaluate security concerns and current information management systems, while implementing pilot programs will provide real-time and tangible results within specific organizations.