VA Holds Off on BYOD Until Personal Data Rights Issue Resolved


Policy needed to govern access to personal information in case of legal probes.

The Veterans Affairs Department does not plan to allow its employees to use their own tablet computers or smartphones at work until it resolves legal issues over access to personal data stored on the devices, a VA official told reporters at a media briefing Wednesday.

Acting Chief Information Officer Stephen Warren said VA does not plan to approve a bring your own device policy until officials address whether inspectors general or other investigators have a right to personal information on personal tablets or phones. VA needs to determine, “What are my rights as a private individual and what are my rights as a VA employee?” to both personal and public information stored on the same device, Warren said.

VA also must decide what type of computer and communications equipment it furnishes to its roughly 300,000 employees as it moves toward a mobile environment, Warren said. VA currently supplies employees with a mix of desktop and laptop computers and cell phones and BlackBerry phones. It has 500 Apple iPads in pilot tests.

In the future, VA employees should not expect to have multiple computers, tablets or phones for work, as each comes with licensing costs, Warren said. Employees will be furnished with the computer equipment best suited to their job, he said.

Last Thursday, VA awarded contracts valued at $5.3 billion over five years to provide desktop and laptop computers, tablets and network gear.

In June 2012, then-VA CIO Roger Baker predicted that within five or six years, VA would no longer furnish employees with computers. Instead, BYOD programs would replace department supplied equipment.

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