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Apr 22, 2014

Creating a Secure Mobile Application Governance Strategy

The adoption of mobility programs within the federal government is gaining significant traction due to the increased pressure for agencies to implement bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs to drive cost savings, and to satiate the demand for employees to access data and content while on the move. Federal agencies are also looking for ways to create more inter-agency collaboration through mobility. These new mobile challenges are forcing agencies to pay special attention to the management and protection of what matters most – mobile apps and data.

A recent report from Accenture, “Four Ways That Mobility Can Transform Government Solutions,” showcases how mobile technology can enhance the work of federal agencies – bridging the digital divide, helping the government become more insight driven, and improving productivity.

Bridging the digital divide

Federal mobile apps can transform how quickly work gets done and can streamline processes. A good example of the demand for mobile apps is in the federal Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programs. However, the main uses right now are for document sharing and email and there is a need for agency employees accessing data in more advanced systems in the very near future. Secure device-agnostic apps are an answer to this need.

Helping government become more insight driven

Nothing sets a company or a federal agency back further than always being in “reaction mode.” Take Hurricane Sandy, the second costliest Atlantic hurricane in history. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been criticized for it’s handling of this and other disasters. The breakdown in interdepartmental, interagency, and intergovernmental communication presents a real threat to response for this agency.

In July 2013, the agency released a report on its lessons learned from the response to this large natural disaster that shows a real need to foster collaboration and communication between agencies. A strength they played up was the use of a single online crisis management system to “coordinate and support response operations.” The WebEOC’s purpose was to support “FEMA and its federal partners in requesting resources from the field, maintaining situational awareness, monitoring and tracking national hurricane plan task, and tracking assistance delivered to survivors.”

The results were that “more than 60% of the personnel found the system ‘effective’ or ‘very effective.’” However, the agency did see a need to expand it to “provide a real-time feeds, integration with other situational awareness products and linking to the information of other Whole Community partners.” As the “need for improvement” outlined by Accenture and FEMA points out, it’s possible that we can make a turn toward insight with mobility. 

Increasing agency employee productivity

In order to increase the productivity of federal workers, it’s imperative that agencies look toward integrating mobility as part of the everyday jobs of their personnel. Driving this need for expanded mobile technology initiatives in the federal workforce are BYOD pilots, agencies with work-from-home programs, and the need for remote field workers to gather, submit, and access data on the move. Unfortunately, enterprise mobility for federal workers is met with the same challenges as most digital objectives – complexity, security, and cross-agency collaboration.

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