Is mobility only a device kept in one’s pocket, or a tablet sitting on a table?
Not according to Sonny Hashmi, the General Service Administration’s chief technology officer and acting chief information officer, and other government officials at FedScoop’s fourth annual MobileGov Summit in Washington, D.C.
“To GSA, mobility means enabling a GSA employee or stakeholder to access the information and resources they need and to be fully productive from where they are,” Hashmi said Feb. 27.
GSA is working to not only give remote access to its workforce but also making its employees part of the agency fabric by connecting them with the whole team.
Between 40 and 60 percent of GSA’s employees are in the office during the day, according to Hashmi. The rest is working remotely. GSA has been able to save $24 million through this approach.
“Instead of setting up meetings across town, we are using mobility and an open workspace,” Hashmi said.
A slew of government officials gathered at the summit to discuss the challenges and successes of mobile government.
Defense Department CIO Teri Takai outlined the progress DOD has been making incorporating mobile devices into its framework.
“One of the challenges for DOD is how do we ensure we are improving faster, but not necessarily with the sense that everyone has to have the newest phone,” she said.
In January, DOD approved iOS 7 for government use and it is in the process of approving Windows 8. By July, DOD expects to consolidate the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency’s approval process, according to Takai.
For the future, DOD is looking to solve other challenges such as how to better control network access and increase trust in mobile apps.
DOD is trying to find tools that consistently vet apps for security.
“We want to work with industry on common tools for app vetting, security standards and evolved Public Key Infrastructure for issuance of derived credentials,” Takai said.
The only way for government to stay abreast of mobility growth is through adaptation, said Michael Valivullah, CTO of the National Agricultural Statistics Services at the Agriculture Department.
Mobility challenges range from lost devices with sensitive data to reconciling different operating platforms to malware to patching to weak passwords, according to Valivullah.
“People who adapt the best are going to survive,” he said. “Take it from Darwin.”
Some agencies have taken the advice and begun to change the way they do business. GSA is pushing to make mobile apps more native.
Agencies need to continually improve with app development, said Jacob Parcell, manager of mobile programs at GSA.
“The future of mobile is the Internet of things,” he said. “It will be scanable, wearable, drivable and flyable.”
To attract users to mobile government apps, agencies need to put themselves in the users’ shoes and make apps intuitive, easy and integrated, according to Parcell.