Bring Your Own Device Plans Due by September

Eighty-seven percent of agencies have not implemented a BYOD program, expert says.

The White House on Wednesday released a digital strategy that focuses more on ensuring citizens have mobile access to government websites and data than it does on ensuring mobile access for federal employees.

But one area in particular that the strategy looks to advance for federal employees is ensuring agencies issue a “bring your own device,” or BYOD, plan by September. These plans will allow federal employees to access their work and agency-built mobile applications from any device, the strategy states.

Earlier this month, I wrote about a survey by Network World and Solar Winds that found 60 percent of federal IT respondents said there are no restrictions on the types of personal mobile devices employees can use to access their agencies’ networks.

But Tom Simmons, vice president for federal systems at Citrix, told Wired Workplace last week that those numbers are likely inflated, noting that he believes agencies still have a long way to go in implementing BYOD. “I think there is the desire with leadership and the IT community to embrace BYOD, but the biggest concern is security and following closely behind is the rights of the government to wipe or manage individual devices,” he said.

Simmons cited recent survey figures from the Government Business Council that found the vast majority of agencies -- 87 percent -- have not implemented a BYOD program. “Everyone wants to embrace it,” he said, “but I think it’s going to be a small footprint of access concept.”

And while telework was touted as possibly being a major component of the White House’s new digital strategy, the word telework is only mentioned once throughout the document. The strategy noted that as new technologies emerge, telework rules would likely need to be revisited “to allow employees to work from any location, as long as the device and connectivity are appropriately secure.”

Simmons said that while most agencies are ready to go on telework at least when it comes to the technology and infrastructure, most are still behind when it comes to adapting cultures and policies to be amenable to telework. “Telework is a mandate, but it’s not mastered,” he said.