Federal information technology officials are on a mission to hammer out a new, more coherent strategy for using mobile technology in government by the end of next month. But already, they are beginning to conclude that parallel efforts focused on outward-facing citizen services and inward-focused workforce productivity opportunities must be viewed increasingly from a larger, more integrated perspective, according to Richard Holgate.
Holgate, CIO and assistant director for science and technology for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is playing a lead role in developing a new “federal mobility strategy” announced last month by U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel during the Consumer Electronics Show.
The federal mobility strategy represents the administration’s and VanRoekel’s attempt to harness mobile technologies to improve how the government interacts with citizens and businesses and at the same time, increase the productivity of federal workers.
“Instead of two strategies, one for citizens and one for federal workers, we need an integrated approach,” Holgate said, speaking at a conference on mobile government in Washington, D.C. today, produced by FedScoop. “There’s too much overlap,” he said. (For more on the conference, see Mobility Takes High Profile Among Feds.)
While much of the discussion at the conference, and in the federal community at large, has focused on how to manage mobile devices more efficiently and securely, Holgate said that the federal mobile strategy must also rethink how applications, data, and content are managed as well.
He pointed to the ability of the National Security Agency to share classified information over commercial networks and mobile devices as an example of what can, and needs to be done, in making agencies more mobile.
The Defense Department is also in the middle of developing a similar comprehensive mobile strategy. The release of that strategy, however, has been put on temporary hold at the request of VanRoekel’s office, according to Rob Carey, DoD’s deputy CIO who also spoke at the conference. Carey said that VanRoekel made the request in order that DoD’s strategies might be more fully aligned with the overall federal strategy.
Another area needing greater integration attention is how the government’s mobile strategy relates to agency websites, Holgate said. The administration has embarked on a reform initiative to reduce the number of redundant and underutilized government websites.
“Our web reform strategy is about weeding the garden,” Holgate said, and tends to focus on what’s already in place. “Our mobility strategy is about planting next year’s crop,” with a more forward looking perspective, he said.
Holgate showed a presentation slide that he described as a work in progress, but which provided a preliminary sketch of how the federal mobility strategy is taking shape.
The diagram encapsulated several key components within a governance framework, requiring more detailed strategic focus. The component parts included shared infrastructure, privacy and security policies, and a device strategy that “is right the first time.” It also included the need to resolve issues pertaining to presentation and accessibility, content, applications and structured data. All of those components would lead to a set of public facing and enterprise-wide strategies, Holgate said.