Mobility at work has become the “new normal” for federal employees, but managing mobility continues to create challenges, a new government sector survey concludes.

The report, based on a survey of 414 federal employees and IT professionals, found:

  • 99% of federal IT professionals have deployed mobile devices to agency employees
  • 62% of federal agencies allow employees to use their own mobile devices at work (BYOD)
  • 44% of federal employees report using their personal mobile devices for work purposes.

The study, released this week by CDW Government, a technology solutions supplier, also examined how agency IT professional manage mobile devices and what steps they are taking to mitigate security concerns.

A majority of agencies have established security policies for mobile device use: 85% of agencies report having a data security policy for telework and mobile computing and roughly an equal percentage require data secruity training for those users. Three out of four agencies have identified a manager to implement telework security polices, which is required by the Office of Management and Budget.

At the same time, agencies may not have the security measures in place to fully protect against the loss of sensitive data.

Employees increasingly expect to be able to work anywhere and at any time.”

While 82% of agencies have deployed encryption for mobile devices, only 54% use multi-factor authentication, and slightly less than half of agencies provide remote lock-and-wipe capabilities. Only 39% of agencies reported having data loss prevention software.

Device management also remains a major issue, especially with the Obama administration’s November 2011 executive order that asked agencies to limit the number of IT devices they issue to employees, including mobile devices, in order to cut costs. The survey found 71% of federal IT professionals do, or will, include mobile device management in their security efforts.

“Agencies have the security policies and training in place to enable mobile work, but the BYOD trend highlights the need for comprehensive mobile device management solutions that protect both personal and agency-owned devices – and Federal data,” said Neal Campbell, senior vice president, CDW.

“We found that many agencies may not have comprehensive security measures in place to protect sensitive data that employees regularly access via mobile devices,”he said.

The problem is exacerabed by agencies needing to securely manage many different types of devices at once, including both agency-owned and employee-owned devices, Cambell said.

The need for mobility solutions comes at a time when “employees increasingly expect to be able to work anywhere and at any time,” said Bob Kirby, vice president of federal government for CDW-G.

The study found that nearly all federal employees who use a mobile device for work believe it makes them more productive.

“Agencies responded first by deploying mobile devices, and now they are enabling use of personal devices,” he said.

“Federal employees – just like those in other industries – access a wide variety of data in the course of their jobs, from financial information to employee and taxpayer records to email and social networking accounts,” Kirby said.

“Employees understand the need to keep private information just that – private. But as cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, they need a full suite of security tools to help them.”

A copy of the study is available on CDW-G’s website.