For all the progress federal agencies have made toward mobile technology, CIOs still long for industry innovation that leads to a secure, virtual solution for devices other than BlackBerries.
The sentiment came through at a panel discussion Tuesday moderated by Rick Holgate at the Telework Exchange’s Fall 2012 Town Hall Meeting in Washington, D.C. Holgate is chief information officer at the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Panelists mostly addressed issues surrounding data management, security and BYOD, as well as savvy cost benefit analysis and risk associated with IT progress. Their comments also illustrated the varying rates at which federal agencies are implementing mobile technology, thereby enabling a mobile workforce.
“We’re looking for bright ideas from industry… some way to avoid carrying around another big thing in your pocket,” said Michael Krieger, Deputy CIO for the Department of the Army. “We need to get rid of proprietary solutions”
Despite what’s not yet available, Krieger shared how the Army is taking risks in order to move forward. For example, the Army allows “data at rest,” which refers to digital information stored inside a device rather than on a network and is therefore more vulnerable to security breaches. However, such data is only allowed and managed on government issued devices. They’ve even found a secure way to access BlackBerry applications beyond phone and email.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, however, hasn’t moved as quickly. Concerns remain strong around security, particularly with data at rest, said panelist Mary Givvines, Acting Deputy CIO for the agency.
Krieger suggested CIOs must balance operational effectiveness, security and efficiency.
“Every CIO … has to manage that polarity daily and decide where they are going to take risks to make people more productive,” he said. “We’re taking that risk in the army in various places.”
Givvines said NRC “isn’t there.”
“At our agency it’s black and white,” she said. “We don’t take any risks.”
The panelists both shared how they’ve been able to accomplish mobility efforts within budget constraints.
NRA has cut 10% from operation and maintenance costs to invest in mobility initiatives. However, they’ve only been able to reinvest 5%. Krieger said the Army has saved $75 million through encrypted enterprise email and, through savvy negotiation, reinvested it back into advanced mobility efforts. He added that cost-benefit analysis has been key.
“You’ve got to be innovative. You use art and science,” he said. “In the army we have to use our size. … You also measure ROI in terms of capability. Sometimes paying more is OK if you get the operational capability and efficiencies you want.”