What seemed like a simple objective, to develop and issue a standardized, electronically-verifiable identification card for civilian agency personnel, continues to encounter a barrage of technical and cultural challenges at a time when identification has become a critical component in the government’s efforts to embrace mobile and remote computing.

Despite the government’s aggressive push under the Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM) plan, only three departments are above minimum fielding levels and using the civilian personal identity verification (PIV) cards, said Paul Grant, director for cybersecurity policy in the Office of the DOD Chief Information Officer. And it remains unclear when the cards will be universally fielded across the civilian government. Keep reading →

UPDATED. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced it plans to buy iPhone services for more than 17,600 employees.

According to an Oct. 17 solicitation notice posted on FedBizOpps, a government procurement site, the immigration and customs division of the Department of Homeland Security is planning to buy Apple iPhone devices that are bundled into monthly plans for cellular phone service, Internet access for domestic and international coverage, and text messaging capabilities. Keep reading →

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. Keep reading →

The new computing generation has burst on the federal scene in a big way. The latest manifestation is solicitations coming from two cabinet agencies.

But they remind me of a scene many years ago. I spoke at the retirement party of a federal executive who had briefly worked on a program called seat management. I joked that more people were attending the party than had signed up for seat management, and got a roar of laughter.

“Seat”, as people called it, meant a contractor would supply to federal agencies a PC and all of the required software and services, charging a per-user, per-month fee.

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Seat management, touted as the biggest thing since computers, went over like a lead balloon. But it turns out, the concept might have simply been ahead of its time.

Today, agencies one by one are putting their productivity applications in the cloud. Separately, they are providing mobile devices or letting employees bring their own under BYOD plans.

Marry cloud and BYOD and you have the 21st century version of seat management. The difference today is the seat can be in someone’s car or kitchen, at the beach or in an airplane.

About those two new request proposals demonstrating what is going on: Keep reading →

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry phones have historically been the device of choice for secure mobile communication in the government market. BlackBerries offered unique business-oriented capabilities but lacked sex appeal to draw consumers to its products. Yet for government agencies that needed to supply their workers with a robust, secure cell phone, the business features won out over giving users a device that was “magical.”

Now with the rise of BYOD (“bring you own device”) in government agencies, RIM is suddenly no longer an appealing option for consumers who are now asked to buy their own device and bring it to work.
This article originally appeared as a blog on “The New Information Economy.” For more news and insights on innovations at work in government, please sign up for the AOL Gov newsletter. For the quickest updates, like us on Facebook.
___________________________________________________ Keep reading →

Several weeks back, at a GTRA Council Meeting, I heard my former CIO at EPA, Malclom Jackson, talk about “Developing a Secure Mobile-First Culture – the EPA’s Story.”

Among other points, he announced an “aggressive and accelerated procurement for new EPA collaboration tools”: one month to advertise, one month to decide, and four months to implement, so it is ready by November. Malcolm deserves credit on a number of fronts for pushing these ideas forward and quickly.

But it also reminded of a point about government that I experienced many times during my 30-plus years of government service at EPA: namely, senior managers in government repeat work that has been done in the past either because they do not know about it or choose to ignore it and start from scratch again.

I asked him if he was also working on the two functions that I had found important in my experience with doing this, provisioning content and dealing with limited bandwidth, and he said they were.

But I know from my experience at EPA that those two things are not going to happen in a short period of time. It took me three years to prepare EPA’s best content in a collaboration tool that supports limited bandwidth use on both desktop and mobile devices.

In my government experience, the 90-9-1 rule applies… only 1% will really use (new tools) and be doers and evangelists.”

I would have also felt better about what Jackson announced if he had mentioned it supported and followed the standards outlined by Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel in his Building a Digital Government Strategy.

One can do these things from the top down: That is, respond to the need for collaboration tools for an agency that work on mobile devices, procure them and hope that the employees put their content in them.

Or one can work from the bottom up: Use what employees are already using to put their content in to collaborate with others and see if those tools will scale up and federate.

We have all seen organizations procure yet another set of collaboration tools, only to then have a massive migration problem with legacy content and users still continue to use their tools of choice. For example, mobile has evolved from “This is the only tool we offer” (e.g. BlackBerry) to now Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) (e.g. iPhones, iPads, etc.)

So what should Malcolm and others in his situation do?

First, I would go around asking and looking for what has already been done and ask the real productive people at EPA, who are collaborating with others inside and outside the agency, what they are using (at EPA or outside of EPA) or would use if they had permission, and encourage others at EPA to try those pockets of excellence first.

Keep reading →

Perhaps it was inevitable. With all the computing power in the palms of a critical mass of end users, commercial off the shelf (COTS) mobile devices – smartphones, tablets and small factor computing devices of various hues and types – are now also getting into the hands of warfighters, first responders, federal law enforcement personnel, covert operators, command and control operation center staffs, and many other government workers.

And as a result, the age of tactical mobility may very well be upon us – finally. Keep reading →

Verizon is teaming up with a Vienna, Va., provider of government-grade encrypted voice-calling software to deliver secure mobile calling capabilities to the U.S. government.

In what Verizon described as a collaborative strategic agreement with Cellcrypt, the two companies expect to release a jointly marketed mobile voice-encryption solution this fall designed to meet the needs of military, intelligence and civilian agencies. Keep reading →

When it comes to mobile computing, what do organizations value the most? Consider the following: You lose your smartphone (or, worse, someone steals it). What first crosses your mind? Is it, “That’s going to cost $200 to replace”? Or, do you think, “Someone I don’t know has access to all of my ‘stuff,’ my contacts, my kids’ photos, my home address, my email”? The answer is obvious; you value the data.

The same is true of your organization. Keep reading →

The days of government-issued BlackBerrys may be waning, but the reason may have less to do with the overwhelming popularity of iPhones and Android-operated devices than with the growing maturity of back-end systems used by agencies to manage their mobile devices.

For the General Services Administration, having an approved and functioning mobile device management system in place was a crucial component in its decision in recent weeks to begin offering its employees a choice over which smartphones and tablets they may use for government work. Keep reading →

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