HHS plan requires employees to outfit personal devices to agency standards

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Strategy envisions stipends for some who bring their own smartphones and tablets.

Health and Human Services Department employees who wish to work with personal smartphones and tablets should pay upfront for the configurations and services necessary to securely access agency information, according to a strategy from HHS’ Chief Technology Officers Council posted online Monday.

Employees also should have to secure express approval from division technology chiefs before using personal devices for work, according to the HHS Mobile Technology Strategy. Those divisions should be responsible for providing software that connects personal mobile devices with agency networks, the strategy said.

The policy leaves open the possibility of division-level stipends for employees who trade in a government device for a personal one but not for employees who don’t already have a government device.

The document was approved by HHS’ CTO Council in January but first posted online Monday on the site GovernmentAttic.org in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

HHS’ January plan preceded a governmentwide digital strategy, released in May, which -- along with a set of governmentwide recommendations for bring-your-own-device policies released in August -- might ultimately have a greater effect on how HHS BYOD policies are implemented.

The department’s document is useful, however, as a guide to how agency technology shops think about managing and paying for BYOD programs.

The HHS strategy describes its payment guidance as “recommendations that can be implemented at the discretion of the [operating division] CIO,” not as binding departmentwide policy.

The strategy is stricter about security controls. According to the document, personal devices must include a “secure enclave” or “container” where government information can be segregated from personal information and that meets government security requirements. Security officials must be able to enforce complicated passwords and other authentications to access that enclave and must be able to remotely wipe the enclave of any information, the strategy said.

Employees will be prohibited from downloading any unapproved applications into the secure enclave, the strategy said. The strategy also forbids employees from “jail breaking” government-issued or personal devices, or essentially freeing the device from restrictions imposed by the manufacturer.

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